Why are Australia’s dairy farmers so worried about climate change?
By now, you’re probably aware that there’s a big debate going on about the role that the Australian dairy industry plays in climate change.
As one of the most important sectors of the economy, Australia’s milk supply depends heavily on a supply chain that’s vital to maintaining a steady, stable and affordable supply of milk.
If it’s not working, the dairy industry’s bottom line can be hit.
It’s an important issue to all Australians, and it’s been highlighted by the ABC’s Climate Change Countdown this week.
The ABC’s research has found that the industry is facing an increasingly complex climate change challenge, as temperatures rise, the world is warming up and climate change is a threat to the industry.
So, how do dairy farmers and their staff cope with this?
Well, the ABC has asked dairy farmers, processors and other dairy industry professionals to tell us what they think of climate change in their own words.
“I’m getting my first cow at the age of five,” says Greg Taylor, who has been dairy farmer for more than 20 years.
Greg Taylor is looking forward to his first cow.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen “When I was five years old, my father took me to see the first cow I had ever seen.
I was very scared, but when he pulled up in a little white van, it was just as if he was going to bring me to the farm.
My mum and dad were all very excited.”
The farmer, who works with the Queensland Dairy Council, says the cows were born in the middle of drought, and he was told that the milk they produce today would be “too high-risk”.
“They’re not the ones we are concerned about,” he says.
He says he’s hoping to be able to milk a herd of four cows for the next few years, which will be the first time he’s ever raised four calves.
But the milk’s not going to be cheap.
According to the Australian Dairy Farmers Union, the cost of producing a kilogram of milk would be about $100 per kilogram.
There are currently some restrictions on the number of cows that can be produced each year, but these are gradually easing, with the new regulations allowing farmers to produce up to two dairy cows a year.
And then there are the other challenges.
Dairy farmers are facing a new set of issues with climate change, with warmer weather, droughts and more frequent extreme weather events such as the Queensland heatwave.
These are just some of the issues the farmers are grappling with.
They’re also being confronted by an increasingly difficult economic environment, with many struggling to cope with the increased demand for milk and a rapidly ageing population.
How do the dairy farmers respond?
Greg Taylor says he expects to have to reduce the number and size of his herds.
With dairy farmers experiencing a severe economic crisis, the decision to increase production could be tough.
Greg Taylor and his son, Logan, a bull, are expecting their first calf in the summer.
At the age a cow can be raised, Logan’s production will be cut in half.
Greg Taylor says the herd will have to be reduced to two or three cows, and they’ll need to milk at least four calves each year.
Photo by Greg Taylor Greg and Logan are still very much in the early stages of raising calves, but they’re excited about the prospect of raising their first herd.
”We are not in a position to have any calves until the end of June, but we’re aiming to raise about 15 or 20 cows, which would be a good start,” he says, adding that the cows will be “in good health”.
He is also encouraging his staff to be more responsible with the dairy.
“It’s important that we take our milk in good health, to make sure we don’t have any problems from dairy products, but also to ensure we don´t have any dairy products that could potentially cause disease,” he said.
We are also hoping to increase our dairy farming capacity and increase the number we can milk, but I don’t think we can do it in two or even three years, he says with a laugh.
What can the dairy sector do to prepare?
Dairy farming relies heavily on the climate, and Greg Taylor thinks it is crucial to protect the environment as much as possible.
‘Climate change is going to take us over the top’Greg Taylor, a dairy farmer in the Northern Territory.
This year’s Queensland heatwaves have been extremely challenging, and the drought is expected to continue, even though the weather conditions are favourable.
In addition, the impact of the heatwave has already resulted in significant losses of livestock and livestock products.
Although Greg Taylor acknowledges that the heatwaves are tough, he feels the impacts are far greater than they were a few years ago.
For example, Greg Taylor