Dairy in Australia

Dairy is one of Australia’s most important rural industries, producing about 9.3 billion litres of milk in 2017-18 and directly employing approximately 42,600 people. The majority of milk production occurs on the south-east seaboard in Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania.

Australia exports approximately 36 per cent of its milk production, with exports valued at $3.4 billion in 2017-18. A large proportion of exports are in the form of value-added products such as cheese, butter, ultra-heat treated milk and milk powders. Australian dairy is exported around the world.

The national services body for the Australian dairy industry is Dairy Australia, the industry-owned national service organisation funded by farmer levies, with matching research and development funds from the Australian Government.

Dairy Australia has eight Regional Development Programs that cater for local dairy farmer needs in Gippsland, Subtropical, Western Victoria, New South Wales, Murray region, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) is the national advocacy body representing dairy farmers around Australia. The Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF) is the peak policy body for commercial/non-farm members of the Australian dairy industry and is open to entities operating in Australia that are engaged in the manufacture, marketing or trading of dairy products and/or dairy related products. Together, the ADF and ADPF form the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC). This partnership forms a national policy and advocacy body working to improve entire value chain sustainability and profitability.

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Statistics and industry information

  • A Milk Price Index is available to help dairy farmers better understand and interpret commodity milk pricing and market signals.
  • Detailed statistics and information about the Australian dairy industry are available from Dairy Australia. This includes data on prices, production, exports and forecasts for the dairy industry.
  • The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) also produces detailed data about the dairy industry through quarterly Agricultural Commodities forecasts and publications. These are available at ABARES publications for viewing and download.

Other Links

The Dairy Levy

Milk producers in Australia must pay a Dairy Services Levy based on milk production. This levy provides funding for the dairy industry services body, Dairy Australia, and is invested in research and development and industry services with the aim of increasing farm productivity, maintaining and developing value-added markets and products, and promotion of the industry. More information about the levy investment can be found at Dairy Australia, or on the department’s levies and dairy levies page.

Importing/exporting dairy products

Imports of milk products into Australia are restricted and commercial imports will require an import permit. Further information can be found at the importing food section.

Dairy exports are regulated by Australia's export control legislation. Further information can be found at the exporting dairy section.

Other enquiries

Any other enquiries about the domestic dairy industry can be emailed to Biotechnology, Dairy and Competition, or call 1800 900 090.

Last reviewed: 2 December 2019
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