THE Gippsland dairy industry is worth about $3 billion to the region’s economy and has the potential to increase with opportunities for further investment.
The dairy industry’s importance to the Gippsland economy and the growth opportunities on the horizon were highlighted at a forum in Warragul on Friday involving key decision-makers from the region.
‘Gippsland Dairy – Leveraging the Opportunities’ highlighted the important contribution dairy provides the region.
The $3 billion farming, manufacturing and export industry spans more than 1400 dairy farms which produce about two billion litres of milk a year – 20 per cent of Australia’s total, while around 6800 people work directly on farms and in milk processing factories in Gippsland.
Speakers at the event included GippsDairy chairman Graeme Nicoll, United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) president Adam Jenkins and keynote speaker David Williams – an investment advisor with Kidder Williams.
In his speech, Mr Nicoll, who farms at Fish Creek, highlighted the potential for growth and importance of dairy industry profitability – and the spin-off benefits in investment, jobs and stronger communities.
“Dairy across Victoria has the potential to grow substantially to take advantage of the burgeoning demand for safe, high quality dairy products overseas,” Mr Nicoll said.
“This means more jobs and more economic activity which, in turn, helps maintain the towns and services that make this and other dairy regions attractive as investment and tourist destinations.
“But we have to work hard to attract the investment to deliver this prosperity to the regions.
“Investors – new and existing – have many choices about where they put their dollars. It is not inevitable they will choose Gippsland or any other dairy region in Victoria.”
Mr Jenkins focussed on roads and transport, social licence to operate farms, water availability and communications as the key factors in ensuring the ongoing success of the dairy industry.
“We have the soils, climate and proximity to markets to grow profitably and sustainably, and take advantage of the burgeoning global demand for safe, high quality dairy products,” Mr Jenkins said.
“This means more jobs locally in a highly skilled industry, more economic activity, vibrant towns and more of the services that underpin the region’s liveability.
“But we can’t do it alone. We need to work in partnership with local, state and federal governments, with other agricultural commodity groups, utilities and the community to leverage the opportunities before us.”
Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday said the Warragul forum was an important opportunity for the dairy industry to show its worth and potential to the wider community.
“It’s vital that decision-makers understand what dairying contributes to regional economies and the Australian economy as a whole,” Mr Halliday said.
“Having a chance to get people together and discuss our opportunities and concerns is the best way to promote understanding of how we can all help each other build a better dairy industry and a more prosperous Gippsland.”
Dairy farmers and industry leaders networked with government, financiers and community representatives while showcasing the high quality Gippsland dairy produce being exported to the world.
Dairy Australia is the national services body for the Australian dairy industry.
The company acts as the collective investment arm of the industry, investing in essential research, development, extension and industry services with the goal of making dairy farms more profitable.
GippsDairy is one of eight Regional Development Programs (RDP) set up by Dairy Australia to cater for local farmer needs.