South Australian dairy farms are decreasing in number, while dairy processors in the State are on the rise.

In 2018-19, the SA dairy industry produced 489.3 million litres of milk from around 221 dairy (cow) farms, a decrease of 2.3% on 2017-18 production.

During 2018-19 cow dairy farm numbers decreased by 3.5%, from 230 at 30 June 2018 to 212 at 30 June 2019. In addition to the number of operating cow dairy farms, there were 2 sheep, 5 goat and 1 buffalo dairy in operation during 2018-2019. Camel milk production is also a regulated dairy product in South Australia, however there were no accredited camel dairies during this period.

The number of accredited dairy processors increased from 52 at 30 June 2018 to 55 at 30 June 2019.

South Australian dairy processors produce milk products, cream, flavoured milk, UHT milk, cheese, yoghurt, dairy desserts, dips, ice cream, gelati, milk concentrates, milk and whey powders, and butter from processed cow, goat, sheep and buffalo milk.

Dairysafe accredited 23 dairy transport businesses at 30 June 2019 compared to 24 accredited at 30 June 2018.

The South Australian dairy industry is spread across the State with farms located in the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula, Lower Murray Swamps and Lakes, South East and Mid North. In terms of current SA milk production:

Regional production:

  • Central region: up by 18.2%, 14.5% and 17.9% for the first 3 months respectively against 2018/2019 figures;
  • Mid North: up by 0.8%, 5.3% and 7.2% for the first 3 months respectively against 2018/2019 figures; and
  • South East: down by 24.1%, 21.5% and 13.7% for the first 3 months respectively against 2018/2019 figures

State production is down by 5.05%, 4.4% and 0.26% for the first 3 months respectively against 2018/2019 figures.

YTD comparison: collectively, year to date production is down 3.06% for the first 3 months of the financial year compared to 2018/2019.

SA Dairyfarmers’ Association president John Hunt recently said that he was aware some dairies in the South East were being transformed into beef operations.

Mr Hunt said there were several reasons why dairy farmers might be leaving the industry, including poor returns and increased input costs, but for some it might simply have been the right time to step back.

However, he also said, “milk prices had increased in recent months, on the back of strong demand”, providing a “bit more optimistic frame of mind”.