WA dairy farmers to gather for annual Spring Forum event

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Aidan SmithCountryman
Western Dairy meets for annual Spring Forum.
Camera IconWestern Dairy meets for annual Spring Forum. Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

West Australian dairy farmers are set to gather together at Bunbury for the industry’s annual Western Dairy Spring Forum as milk volumes drop and the organisation faces a reduced cash flow of $82,000.

Scheduled for Wednesday, December 6, at the Mantra Bunbury Lighthouse the forum coincides with the release of Western Dairy’s annual report, which outlines a profitable year for farmers counterbalanced against rising input costs and a competitive labour market.

Western Dairy chair and dairy farmer Robin Lammie acknowledged the WA dairy industry continued to ‘ride the wave’ in 2022/23.

“The increase in farmgate milk price in early 2022 was welcomed given the increase in price of fertiliser, fuel and labour,” Mr Lammie wrote in his Chair’s Report.

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“Milk production for 2022/23 was slightly down on previous years (as with most dairying regions); however, WA’s contribution to national production remains consistent at four per cent.”

Western Dairy regional manager Jo Saunders said that the past financial year had been a positive one economically for WA dairy farmers, who received a record-high farmgate price for their milk at 69.02 cents per litre.

About 338 million litres of milk was produced in WA, a predominantly drinking milk State, in 2022/23.

This was slightly down on the 340ML produced during the previous financial year, but is consistent with the overall national decline in milk production.

Ms Saunders said this decrease had impacted Western Dairy’s finances, which derive from a volume-based levy.

Western Dairy chair and dairy farmer Robin Lammie.
Camera IconWestern Dairy chair and dairy farmer Robin Lammie. Credit: supplied/supplied

Mr Lammie advised that the Western Dairy Board and team remain committed to its high level of service and extension delivery to the state’s dairy farmers, and that the organisation was currently navigating its way against this backdrop.

Spring Forum will this year include an Annual General Meeting, with Mr Lammie hopeful attendees will engage in a Q&A session with the five-director board.

“The Board want to highlight they are accessible and here to support dairying in WA by listening to what farmers really want or need to benefit their business,” Mr Lammie said.

“Western Dairy, with support from Dairy Australia, can then ensure farmers get maximum value from their levy.”

The event will also host several guest speakers including Sarah Lang of Regional Finance Hub.

Ms Lang, who is engaged as a consultant by Western Dairy, will outline the results and learnings from the 2022/23 WA Dairy Farm Monitor Project, which surveyed 23 dairy farms and is in its tenth year.

Ms Lang said this year’s results echoed Mr Lammie’s comments.

“Dairy Farm Monitor Project participants enjoyed an increase in milk income due to a full year of increased milk prices,” she said.

“However, increases in costs coupled with a decrease in beef prices reduced some of these gains.

“Pleasingly, all farms recorded a positive EBIT in financial year 2023 and 91 per cent of participants recorded a positive return on equity.”

The host venue for Dairy Innovation Day, to be held in May 2024, will also be announced at the conclusion of Spring Forum.

Dairy Innovation Day is the premier event on Western Dairy’s calendar and is the largest dairy conference and exhibition in the State.

To register attendance at this year’s Spring Forum or to view the Western Dairy 2022/23 Annual Report, visit westerndairy.com.au.

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