Consuming with Care: The Dairy Way

Jun 05, 2015

Producing more from less is a constant theme on Australian dairy farms. From reusing water in the milking shed, to ensuring the pasture our cows graze on can be effectively turned into milk, efficiency is the number one buzz word on farm.

Consuming resources with care underpins everything we do on farm because we know it will ensure the sustainability of our businesses, our industry and our planet in the decades to come.

This year on World Environment Day, June 5, the United Nations will reinforce the importance of consuming with care. Whether it be adopting renewable energy systems on farm or switching off the lights at the power switch, our individual decisions and actions count towards a larger goal of preserving not only the environment but the well being of humanity and our economies.

On June 5, Australian dairy will stand proud on its continuing commitment to minimising our environmental footprint as part of dairy’s broader commitment to establishing a more sustainable dairy industry. This commitment is recognised and promoted through the industry’s Sustainability Framework.

Demonstrating the interdependent nature of dairy’s profitability, well being and natural resource management, the Sustainability Framework shows the progress dairy has made thus far as well as acknowledging the work left to do by 2020.

On-farm examples of sustainable practices abound. South Australian share farmers, Andy Vickers and Belinda Wright soil tested 20 farm paddocks and were able to reduce application of phosphorus fertiliser to about one-third, meaning big cost savings, less nutrient runoff, reducing green house gas emissions and better environmental outcomes.

Overall, the industry’s Fert$mart nutrient management initiative has helped farmers, including 120 in recent months throughout Tasmania, Gippsland and South Australia, to achieve on average, a savings of approximately $12,000 per farm.

On King Island, a group of nine dairy farmers co-ordinated the installation of solar hot water systems for dairy sheds, an innovation making the most of renewable energy sources and also forecast to cut hot water costs by up to 50%.

From these grand scale projects to the everyday actions, all dairy farmers play an important role in creating a sustainable Australian dairy industry and consuming our resources with care. This includes everything from monitoring electricity consumption and equipment performance and having some level of automated irrigation to manage water use efficiently, to feeding cows a high quality diet to increase milk production and reduce green house gas emissions.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has been advocating for the Federal Government’s continued funding towards energy efficiency programs, as well as enduring investment in R,D&E in the Government’s consideration of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions targets and policy.

Working with Dairy Australia, ADF has lobbied for nationwide funding for free energy efficiency assessments for dairy farmers that has already helped 1,200 farms – with another 200 due for completion by June 2015.

Supportive policy could assist farmers in tackling rising energy costs, while also contributing to the dairy industry’s – and Australia’s more broadly – environmental sustainability. We’re committed to ensuring Australian dairy’s voice is heard through government policies that support our industry, however there are many areas where we can already act to make a difference. 

 

World Milk Day - Celebrating our farmers

Jun 01, 2015

Monday 1 June, is World Milk Day.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations started the day of recognition in 2001, and we’re using the occasion to celebrate the Aussie farmers who work hard to produce this delicious, nutritious beverage.

For Australian dairy farmers, producing and delivering premium milk is a matter of pride. This is why Australian dairy has a reputation for consistently high quality and safe products worldwide.

They work hard 7 days a week, 365 days a year to create fresh, great tasting and wholesome fresh milk that Aussies consumed almost 2.5 billion litres of in 2014 alone.

Each daily on-farm activity involved in producing the milk, whether ensuring the cows are healthy or efficiently cleaning milking equipment, contributes to the quality assurance of dairy products. From the twice daily health herd checks during milking to stringent testing for milk headed for the processor, safety is ingrained in what we do.

Our industry is known for being a ‘dairy deli’ in that we place great importance on the quality rather than quantity of supply and this is what sets us apart. It’s our point of difference to focus on our high quality standards and it’s something our industry must maintain (even with our aspirations of growth) as we will never compete on quantity or price with our major competitors.

Dairy farmers work rain, hail or shine to produce our milk and want to be known for being prosperous, trusted and world renowned for the nutrition of our dairy products. Like any Australian, dairy farmers hope to see the effort put into our work reflected in our returns.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), as part of the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC), is committed to ensuring our dairying sector has a sustainable future. That’s why we’re working with our farmers, processors and industry partners, including Dairy Australia, to ensure that dairy continues to enhance livelihoods, improve wellbeing and minimise its environmental footprint well into the future.

This commitment is recognised and promoted through the Dairy Industry’s Sustainability Framework. The second Progress Report has just been released and shows that while we still have hurdles to overcome, progress is being made. This Framework highlights to the rest of the world that Australian dairy is acting on its social, economic and environmental responsibility.

To produce, refrigerate, transport, process, distribute and deliver fresh milk requires a considerable amount of daily planning, work, risk and investment on the part of dairy farmers and processors.

So why be a dairy farmer? Is all the milk worth it? Dairy farmers would say yes ten times over – because they’re passionate about it.

This World Milk Day, we ask that everyone remember that milk is made from hard yakka, pure passion and a commitment to sustainable practices. It is made by an Aussie dairy farmer. 

 

On-farm factors key to safeguarding business profitability

Apr 10, 2015

Over the past decade, Australian dairy farms have faced many challenges to profitability. With the wide range of climatic zones, production systems, operating structures and milk price structures – it’s no wonder there is no silver bullet to ensuring long-term farm profitability.

Following key outcomes from the 2014 Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) National Dairy Farmers’ Summit, and earlier recommendations of the Horizon 2020 study, the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) commissioned Dairy Australia to prepare a report on Sustainable Farm Profitability.

The report, released this month, focuses on the on-farm factors that influence individual dairy farmers’ ability to run profitable farm businesses. Macro drivers outside of farmers’ control, such as weather events, milk price volatility and government policy, are put aside to provide a focus on the aspects of technical efficiency, management capability, tactical flexibility, cost control and investment decisions that farmers can make to deal with risk and volatility.

Dairy Australia’s Farm Business Capability Program Manager, Neil Lane said dairy farms are significantly more successful when farmers are good at managing their business across the board, with a combination of technical and financial skills.

“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to sustaining profitability and it can be a challenge for many individual dairy businesses, however in both good times and bad, there are key areas that farmers can improve to better safeguard their businesses,” Mr Lane said.

Download your copy of the Sustainable Farm Profitability report, here.

 

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