HOW NOW: This brown cow shows curiosity at the state of her industry.
HOW NOW: This brown cow shows curiosity at the state of her industry. paul prescott

Report says North Coast dairy farmers holding steady

DAIRY farming was once the dominant primary industry in northern NSW but fortunes along the North Coast have waxed and waned since deregulation in the 1970's.

Dairy Australia's February situation and outlook report released this week shows moderate milk price increases and favourable spring weather in some dairy regions have contributed to a national milk production increase of nearly three per cent over the past six months.

However, for producers in northern NSW and southern Queensland focussed on producing mainly for the domestic market rather than export, the story isn't as rosy.

NSW was down three per cent and Queensland down five per cent.

While dry conditions in these parts of the country added to the challenge of flat or lower domestic milk prices, there was little joy when those regions primarily filling export demand - Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and southern NSW - saw a healthy lift.

Also notable is the latest chapter in the saga of the controversial Raleigh Dairy Holdings venture south of Coffs Harbour having an administrator appointed on January 29.

Dairy Australia senior analyst John Droppert said the industry may be in overall better shape than one year ago but production increases in Europe and the USA could mean troubled times ahead.

"The reality of northern hemisphere expansion cannot be ignored and the fundamentals point to downward pressure on milk prices in southern regions in coming months," Mr Droppert said.

The good news for suppliers on the North Coast is the Australian domestic market remains stable with volume growth continuing in most major dairy categories.

Sales value growth remained strong with the exception of cheese where retail prices remained under pressure.

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