Statement from the Chairs

As an industry, Australian dairy further strengthened our commitment to sustainability in 2016.

Enhancing livelihoods, improving wellbeing and reducing our environmental impact remain the cornerstones of our approach, however the Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework is a living document and must evolve in line with the industry and the expectations of our customers, as well as broader developments in sustainability. We have highlighted animal welfare to provide greater transparency to our stakeholders on what we are doing in this area.

In 2016, we are enhancing the Framework with our Dairy Promise. The Promise states our key commitments to industry profitability, human health and nutrition, animal welfare and adapting to climate change, and outlines the goals and actions aligned with each commitment.

This year has been a challenging one for the industry. Many producers have faced difficult financial situations as a result of pricing revisions by processors. Poor seasonal conditions have also impacted in some regions. Internationally, commodity prices have fallen. Together, these factors have impacted on the wellbeing of our people and the profitability of the industry, and our dairy communities.

From the beginning the Framework has been about keeping the dairy industry in business for the long term with a key pillar being industry profitability.

The Framework was developed as a ‘living’ strategy with a deliberate intention to periodically review progress and revise to ensure currency and relevance. In 2016, we have put significant effort into reviewing our material issues. In 2017, we will update the Framework goals and targets to guide our path beyond 2020 and towards 2030 and establish baseline data for all the targets and indicators. We will also continue to focus on measuring our contribution and commitment to the communities in which we work and live.

We are very proud of the fact that the Framework was recognised during the year by the United Nations Association of Australia with an award for leadership in the field of sustainability.

We thank our stakeholders for their contribution to progression of the Framework this past year, and in particular our Dairy Sustainability Consultative Forum members for their considered input.

We commend to you our fourth report, now including our Dairy Promise, which details progress against the Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework, and outlines our future goals. We welcome any feedback you may have.

ADI signature panel

     ADIC is the peak industry policy body and the owner of the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework on behalf of industry.


About the Australian dairy industry

Through its farms and manufacturing sector, the Australian dairy industry not only provides nutritious food but is a significant contributor to the national economy.

Despite challenges caused by low rainfall and depressed global prices, the dairy industry remains Australia’s third-largest rural industry behind beef and wheat.

During 2015/16, 6,100 farms (approximately 98% family owned) produced 9.5 billion litres of milk, a slight decrease in production from the previous year due to seasonal conditions and tight profit.

Our milk production more than meets our domestic consumption needs, and a large amount of dairy produce is exported.

Australian dairy has an enviable international reputation, and 34% of our annual production is exported, particularly to South East Asia, Japan, China, Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, and Russia.

The Australian dairy farming system is predominantly pasture based, with 60-65% of feed requirements coming from homegrown feed in a year of normal seasonal conditions.

Dairy has many challenges – for example, our farms use water and energy, and other materials like fertilizer and feed, while generating effluent and greenhouse gas emissions.

Farms and manufacturing plants employ approximately 38,000 people directly and more than 100,000 people indirectly through related services, including research and development, dairy transport and veterinary services.


Industry snapshot