The number of licenced dairy farms in Victoria fell to 3,027 farms recorded in the 2021/22 season, compared to 3,088 licenced farms the in 2020/21, according to Dairy Food Safety Victoria. More than a third of Victorian dairy farmers have exited in the past decade with the biggest year on year decline recorded in the wake of the 2016 price clawbacks by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra.
Commenting on the declining number of dairy farms, United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) president Mark Billing said dairy farm numbers have been declining Australia-wide for a decade now. Billing said the years following the clawback saw many farmers leave dairy which set in a medium-term trend that’s just appearing now. He said the numbers were likely to settle in the coming 2-3 years with the stability of pricing. However Billing added that despite record farmgate prices, labour shortages and inflation pressures from fertiliser and electricity are chipping away at margins for producers.