There’s been a lot of recent media attention on the state of the Australian dairy industry and the challenges our Aussie dairy farmers are facing. To help explain the situation and address some frequently asked questions, we’ve prepared this Industry Update. 

How has this situation come about?

The recent challenges faced by Australian dairy farmers are the result of a mix of circumstances including depressed global markets, very dry conditions across much of South Eastern Australia and high water prices.

In late April, some major processors in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and parts of New South Wales announced an immediate price drop for milk at the farmgate. Some farmers must repay a portion of the previous milk receipts already paid in this financial year. It’s very unusual for such a price stepdown to occur so late in the season and in many cases, farmers now have no choice but to sell their milk below the cost of production while they readjust their farming systems.

Dairy is a global commodity. Australia has strong local demand for fresh milk and dairy products and is a major player in global export markets. However, we compete with other major dairy exporters and prices and exchange rates fluctuate. Other key supply regions like New Zealand and Europe have been similarly challenged by a growth in dairy production that is exceeding global demand at the current time. Volatility has become a common factor in global dairy markets and this has negatively impacted Australian exporters and their supply chains. 

All of this makes for very challenging times for the Australian dairy industry and our farmers, many of whom hail from small, regional communities. However, Australia has strong local demand and a long and proven track record in servicing more than 100 export markets. We are a resilient, efficient industry competing in a global market place. We will be productive, profitable and sustainable for the long term. 

What is being done to support farmers?

Dairy Australia 

At Dairy Australia we are partnering with organisations across the dairy industry to support dairy farmers and their communities. We created a Tactics for Tight Times toolkit of practical advice available to every Australian dairy farmer to help them better understand their business and the best possible response to their individual situation. 

We are also providing expert information and advice to help farmers, processors, banks, investors, Governments, exporters and others in the supply chain make informed, evidence-based decisions. 

Through our Regional Development Program network, Dairy Australia is assisting with the rollout of community programs and initiatives aimed at helping farmers and their communities cope with the current situation. 


State governments in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania have responded positively through the provision of assistance for farmer business and mental health and wellbeing programs. On 25 May 2016, the Federal Government outlined an industry assistance package for eligible dairy farmers, see Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce’s announcement.

Australian Dairy Farmers Peak Body

Dairy farmers’ peak body, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has welcomed the support of governments, saying they meets many of the immediate needs of dairy farmers. 

What can I do to help?

The best thing the general public can do for dairy farmers is to buy more Australian dairy products, and branded products where possible. Simply increasing your consumption of Australian made dairy will help. About 90 per cent of Australian adults fall short on the recommended daily intake of dairy foods. So, in addition to helping farmers, you will be improving your health by enjoying Australian dairy products.

How can I tell if the dairy foods I buy are Australian?

Most fresh milk and dairy products on our shelves is produced in Australia and will display a label stating country of production. Check the packaging to see where your dairy products are produced and if it’s not clear, ask the retailer.

What are the best brands to buy to support the farmers?

It’s not so much a matter of choosing one brand over another, but rather about choosing more branded dairy products. The best thing you can do for dairy farmers is to buy more Australian branded dairy products.

Is there a lactose free way I can help support farmers?

There are Australian made lactose free and low-lactose dairy products and options.

You can also show your support for dairy farmers by using #Legendairy hashtags on social media to encourage others to buy more Australian dairy products.

Need more information?

If you would like to contact someone at Dairy Australia to find out more about this situation, click here.