University of Sydney leads $16m NSW dairy recovery program

11 March 2021
Improving the resilience of the NSW dairy industry

A new collaborative bushfire resilience project including government, the private sector and the University of Sydney, will apply research to future-proof the dairy industry, it was announced by Agriculture Ministers David Littleproud and Adam Marshall today.

The University of Sydney is leading a new program aimed at improving the resilience of the NSW dairy industry - under pressure from years of drought followed by last season's megafires - with a multi-million dollar grant announced by the NSW Government, in conjunction with co-investments from the private sector, amounting to the biggest project of its kind in the industry.

Australian Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud and NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall announced the $16 million total investment for the five-year program to accelerate recovery and build business resilience and growth in the dairy industry.

The announcement coincides with the first meeting of the project’s Board at the Dairy Research Foundation (DRF) headquarters at the University’s Camden campus, with representatives from the Department of Primary Industry (DPI), the DRF, Scibus, Dairy Australia, NSW Farmers, Dairy Connect, DairyNSW, Local Land Services (Hunter and SE), Norco, Australian Fresh Milk Holding Ltd; LPC Ltd and the NSW Dairy Advocate and Dairy Advisory Panel.

Mr Littleproud said the funding and collaboration will deliver a multi-year program to accelerate recovery and build business resilience and growth in the dairy industry, following the significant impacts of the 2019/20 bushfires.

Agriculture is the cornerstone of the economic recovery and the dairy industry is embracing innovations to keep the sector growing.
Australian Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud

Mr Marshall added: “Our farmers are a tough bunch who have shown an impressive amount of resilience over the last few years, but they’re not in this alone – this Government continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with them to help prepare for the future.”

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Stephen Garton said the program was a wonderful example of the university sector’s crucial role in applying research to address complex problems facing society.

“This innovative, collaborative project draws on the University’s deep expertise and industry partnerships to ‘future-proof’ the dairy industry in the face of drought and bushfires while increasing productivity – helping safeguard our food security,” Professor Garton said.

University of Sydney’s DRF director Professor Sergio (Yani) Garcia is the project’s lead, and said the program would accelerate the recovery of the drought and fire-affected NSW dairy industry, and improve farm business resilience and preparedness.

“With this new large collaborative program, the University is once again at the vanguard of innovation and advanced applied dairy research; the DRF is the arm linking this research with industry needs,” said Professor Garcia, from the Sydney Institute of Agriculture and School of Life and Environmental Sciences

“We have termed the program ‘4Hs’ – healthy milk, cows, systems, and people; the program looks to unlock the potential of milk, cow and water to increase farm business profit, de-risk the dairy industry and develop new markets. We hope to accelerate the sector’s recovery and contribute to its future successes and profitability.

“This collaborative program will invigorate dairy RD&E in NSW, marking the beginning of a new and vibrant future for the NSW dairy industry, with true integration of all industry sectors.”

Clockwise from left: Linda Buckley, senior farm hand; Michael Johnsen, MP, Member for Upper Hunter, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, NSW Government; University of Sydney Professor Yani Garcia, director, Dairy Research Foundation and Theme Leader (animal agriculture) Sydney Institute of Agriculture; Dr Nico Lyons, Leader Dairy, NSW DPI; Kenny Oluboyede, Dairy Operation Manager.

The photo was taken at the University of Sydney’s Automatic Milking Rotary, which is operated by five robot arms. The cows’ bodies are in the background, the most visible being milked on the right.

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Michael Johnsen said the NSW Government had partnered with the University of Sydney’s Dairy Research Foundation (DRF) to deliver the collaborative program.  

“The combined effect of bushfires, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic reduced milk output and disrupted the supply chain which has impacted everyone, from farmers to processors, right down to consumers,” Mr Johnsen said.

“But pleasingly, we are now seeing industry turn around and return to the productivity that made it a world-leader in the dairy space.

“The dairy industry is worth more than $600 million to the State’s economy each year, so it’s vital we fast-track recovery, especially from last summer’s bushfires.”

The DRF-lead program is part of the NSW Government’s $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package and would include 10 integrated projects.

Professor Garcia worked with NSW DPI, Scibus and the NSW Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate Mr Ian Zandstra, to secure contributions from a broad range of partners.

The program is a collaborative effort between the NSW Government, the University of Sydney, Dairy Australia, the private sector, NSW dairy industry organisations, and the broader national dairy industry.

Healthy cows, healthy people

  • The program was included recently as one of the four components of the NSW Dairy Action Plan 2020 to “unlock the potential of milk, cow and water to increase productivity and profitability, de-risk the dairy industry, and develop new markets”.
  • The program has been developed through discussions with dairy farmers, the private sector, and national and state dairy industry organisations over the past two years.
  • It focuses on medium and long-term recovery of the drought and bushfire-affected NSW dairy industry – including a focus on future growth and job creation.
  • It will work collaboratively to deliver 10 Projects within three program areas and accelerate the recovery of the drought and fire-affected dairy industry.
  • The three program areas are:

    1) Increase productivity and profitability of the farm business

    2) “De-risking” farm systems and investment

    3) Developing new market opportunities and build community trust

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