Dairy Australia - Dairy information for Australian Dairy Farmers and the industry

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The Australian dairy industry promises to provide nutritious food for a healthier world.

We are committed to:
  1. Providing best care for all our animals
  2. Improving the wellbeing of people
  3. Enhancing farmer livelihoods
  4. Reducing environmental impact


1.Providing best care for all our animals

Striving for health, welfare and best care for all our animals throughout their lives.

Our challenge

Our position

Cows are the livelihood of Australia's dairy farmers. The health and wellbeing of our animals is essential to the success of every dairy farming business. The dairy industry also recognises the importance of community acceptance of the way the industry farms to continue operating.

Dairy animals in Australia are kept in environments that vary from subtropical to temperate regions, predominantly in extensive pasture-based systems with a few intensively-managed indoor systems.

High-quality milk, yoghurt and cheese begin with healthy and well cared for dairy animals.

We strive to provide good care for every animal because they are important to us and it’s the right thing to do.

Our approach


Health — Investing in Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) programs that address the prevention, timely identification and treatment of diseases and illnesses, as well as management of sick or injured cows.

Welfare — Ensuring there are effective projects and processes in place to identify, prioritise and respond to animal welfare issues at an industry-wide level.

Practices — Providing farmers with high quality information to allow them to understand and adopt recommended animal management practices and to speak confidently about these practices (e.g. Cool Cows program).

Quality — Encouraging dairy farmers to take part in farm milk quality programs that also promote good animal welfare outcomes (e.g. Countdown 2020, Milk Quality Awards).

Standards — Building trust and confidence in the dairy industry’s animal husbandry practices and welfare outcomes among government, investors, the community and consumers by demonstrating compliance with Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines.

Like to know more? See our dairy animal welfare FAQs.



2. Improving the wellbeing of people

Maintaining and improving the wellbeing of people through the provision of nutritious, safe, quality dairy food.

Our challenge

Our position

Poor diet is the leading preventable risk factor globally, contributing to 10.5% of diseases in Australia^. In 2011/12, only 10% of Australians were consuming enough milk, cheese and yoghurt for optimal health.*

There is an increasing proliferation of misinformation about the nutritional value of dairy foods. Disseminating the latest science to combat these myths and misinformation is a constant challenge for the dairy industry.

^Source: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2014/
*Source: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.012main+features12011-12

Milk, yoghurt and cheese are all part of a well-balanced, sustainable diet and are essential to the everyday health and wellbeing of consumers. We believe people need more nutritious and less junk food — not necessarily more food.

Independent research indicates that an estimated $2 billion could be saved from the nation’s annual healthcare budget if Australians increased their dairy intake to the recommended levels.^

^Source: J. Doidge, L. Segal, E. Gospodarevskaya, 2012, Attributable Risk Analysis Reveals Potential Healthcare Savings from Increased Consumption of Dairy Products, The Journal of Nutrition.

Our approach


Nutrition — Using the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommendations (supported by a growing body of scientific evidence) to promote consumption of locally-produced dairy foods, as part of a balanced diet.

Innovation — Developing more products with less added sugar to meet increasing demand for full flavoured dairy products with fewer additives (e.g. Lion’s Dairy Goodness project).

Quality — Rewarding dairy farmers each year for producing top-quality milk and showing the link between animal care and milk quality (e.g. Dairy Australia’s Milk Quality Awards).

Health — Contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3, to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” and Goal 2, to “ensure access by all people to nutritious and sufficient food…” (e.g. Healthy Bones program).

Resources — Striving to make high quality, safe dairy products, working to improve shelf life, packaging requirements and reducing environmental impacts.


Like to know more? See our dairy and your health FAQs.


3. Enhancing farmer livelihoods

Developing a dairy industry that rewards dairy workers and families, related communities, business and investors.

Our challenge

Our position

Volatile markets, rising input costs, modest productivity gains and a changing climate have served to make dairy farming challenging for many producers at various times.

Banks, investors and market analysts are becoming more aware of the sustainability risks associated with investments in livestock-based food production. They want to see proof these risks are being managed.

The dairy industry is a $13.7 billion cornerstone of the Australian economy. We underpin vibrant regional economies and resilient communities with $4.3 billion of farm gate production in 2015/16.

Providing people with rewarding livelihoods and investors with responsible investments, we believe the industry needs to be profitable to maintain this contribution in the long term.

Our approach


Research — Implementing the Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) strategy, Dairy Moving Forward, to support dairy farmers’ wealth creation through tactical and strategic management decisions, including those made to minimise negative impacts of external drivers.

Investment — Promoting the dairy farming sector to investors. A guide to Investment and the Australian Dairy Industry for farmers and investors interested in emerging opportunities in the growing sector has been launched.

Communities — Developing a method and dashboard for measuring and reporting the resilience of dairy communities and the contribution of dairy activity to the wellbeing of these communities.

Livelihoods — Creating career pathways for dairy people. Our drive to attract, retain and develop capable people continues through our People in Dairy program.

Innovation — Driving RD&E to achieve increased pasture production and utilisation, increased supplementary feeding and more efficient cows, increased economies of scale, improved animal health and natural resource management.


4. Reducing environmental impact (climate change and food waste)

Meeting the challenge of climate change and providing good stewardship of our natural resources.

Climate Change

Our challenge

Our position

An increase in heatwaves, storms and drought will affect animal welfare and milk production and limit pasture growth. Competition for natural resources worldwide is growing. A drying climate is likely to place increasing pressure on already stressed water resources.

According to the Department of the Environment and Energy, Australia's dairy industry as a whole contributes 12% of Australian agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions. Of this, 95% is from farms and 5% from manufacturing.^

^Source: Australia's emissions projections, Dec, 2016.

A significant, long-term response to climate change impacts is required. As part of this response we will mitigate our own greenhouse gas emissions and reduce water intensity in manufacturing and on farms.   

Our approach


Profitability — Delivering programs to support farmers to adapt their production systems for a changing climate and reduce their energy costs and greenhouse emissions.

Resources — Striving to increase our resource efficiency by measuring and reporting water use intensity through the Dairy Manufacturers’ Sustainability Council. We are also working with farmers on smarter irrigation practices and developing a simple water budget tool to assist management of water risk.

Emissions — Measuring and monitoring carbon intensity in manufacturing through the Dairy Manufacturers’ Sustainability Council. We’re also delivering support to farmers to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of different strategies through our Climate Toolkit.

Innovation — Building capability through the Dairy Manufacturers’ Sustainability Council’s regular expert forums which share information on the latest technologies for improving practices to reduce energy, water use and waste.



Food Waste

Our challenge

Our position

Every year, Australians waste 20% of the food they purchase, equivalent to around eight billion dollars. This food waste also represents a waste of energy, water, land and the other resources required to produce this food.

One-third of food wasted in Australia is fresh food. For dairy, it is estimated that up to $129 million of milk is either lost from the supply chain on farm and in manufacturing, or wasted at the consumer end.

By reducing food loss and waste where we can, we'll improve our efficiency and reduce our environmental impact.

Our approach


Innovation — Committing to developing products and packaging which reduce the potential for food loss and waste.

Retaining value — Seeking a better understanding of where loss and waste occurs along the dairy value chain. We’re monitoring the work of Dairy UK in trialling the WRI Food Loss and Waste Protocol and through the Dairy Manufacturers’ Sustainability Council measuring a larger variety of waste streams.

Resources — Striving to increase our resource efficiency by measuring and reporting through capacity building among members of the Dairy Manufacturers Sustainability Council.

Nutrition — Participating in food recovery and donation programs that reduce food waste by distributing dairy products to charities in Australia (e.g. Foodbank). We've set a goal which supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2, to “ensure access by all people to nutritious and sufficient food…” including improved nutrition.

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