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Positive outlook for Murray dairy farmers

Murray Dairy region farmers are more confident about the future of their businesses and most are expecting a profit in this financial year, according to a recent Dairy Australia report.

GEOFF ADAMS June 3, 2014 3:02am

The outlook is improving for northern Victorian dairy farmers.


Murray Dairy region farmers are more confident about the future of their businesses and most are expecting a profit in this financial year, according to a recent Dairy Australia report.

Commercial and research analysis manager Norman Repacholi said rises in farmgate milk prices and improved profitability had doubled positive farmer sentiment to the highest level since 2004 with 83 per cent positive about their business this year compared to 48 per cent last year.

‘‘Murray Dairy farmers are reaping the benefits of high international commodity prices brought about by the Asian dairy boom and they are likely more than any other dairy region to be in an expansion phase,’’ Mr Repacholi said.

Buoyant Murray Dairy farmers had the highest percentage of farmers anticipating a profit in this financial year than any other region, and also had a higher percentage investing in capital works this year, compared to any other.

The figures have emerged in the National Dairy Farmer Survey published by Dairy Australia as part of the 2014 Situation and Outlook Update Report.

The survey shows 69 per cent of Murray Dairy farmers made a profit in 2012-13 and 87 per cent expect to make a profit this year: 68 per cent of those expect to receive higher profits than their five-year average.

The survey reveals that 59 per cent of Murray Dairy farmers intend to invest in their business in the coming year and milk production is anticipated to increase 7.5 per cent.

The Murray Dairy region — which includes northern Victoria, north-east Victoria and the southern Riverina — has resumed its position as the largest single milk producing area in Australia, accounting for 25 per cent of national milk production.

While low farm gate milk prices are still a concern for Murray Dairy farmers, irrigation, high input costs and the fear of future climatic challenges loom even larger for most of those interviewed.

Australian Consolidated Dairies herd manager Simon Scowen wasn’t surprised by Dairy Australia’s latest report.

Especially in relation to increased confidence in the industry by Murray Dairy region farmers.

‘‘Milk prices are where they need to be and water storages are healthy, so we should be in for a couple of good irrigation seasons which can be make or break in northern Victoria,’’ Mr Scowen said.

‘‘The Australian dollar seems to have settled in the low 90s and demand continues to exceed supply world-wide so there is some optimism on price.

‘‘Prices need to stay where they are to encourage more young people to get into the industry.’’

Courtney Buchanan is a herd manager on a 500-cow farm at Cobram East.

At age 21 she was keen to hear the expert advice at a recent Young Dairy Network Steering Committee workshop to assist her pursuit of a career in dairy.

‘‘There is a lot of positivity out there about dairying at the moment,’’ she said.

‘‘The high milk price certainly helps along with the weather conditions and early rain.’’

More stories page 4.

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