Liquid milk supplies rise but farmer numbers drop in 2019

While last year saw an overall increase in the amount of milk supplied from winter milkers and year-round dairy farms, the number of registered producers with liquid milk contracts has dropped by 21% for the 2019/2020 milk year, according to the National Milk Agency.

The agency revealed the details in its annual report and accounts for 2019.

It was noted that registered milk producers were a significant producer grouping in the domestic milk supply sector in 2018/19, representing 10% of all milk producers and supplying 13% of domestic milk supplies.

Registered winter producers supplied not only the all-year-round domestic milk requirements for liquid milk consumption but also 9% of domestic manufacturing milk supplies, the agency said.

In 2018/19, total milk supplies by the state’s 1,680 registered producers under All Year Round and Winter Months Only contracts increased by 19 million litres or 2% to 1.05 billion litres, compared with 1,031 million litres in 2017/18.

Supplies for processing for liquid consumption amounted to 452 million litres, or 43% of total supplies of  registered producers, while supplies for processing into manufactured dairy products amounted to 597 million litres, or 57% of total supplies.

Milk supplies purchased under registered contracts for processing for liquid consumption exceeded processors’ fresh milk sales by 4% in 2018/19, compared to 5% in 2017/18, mainly due to transitional purchasing arrangements between processors and producers following industry consolidation.

In the 2019/20 milk year, the number of registered producers with contracts decreased by 352 producers or 21% to 1,328 registered producers, the report said.

This, the National Milk Agency notes, follows a voluntary restructuring scheme by a major processor of its producer panel for supplies for liquid consumption – which allowed liquid milk producers to switch to manufacturing supply models, with a few liquid milk suppliers to other processors also making the change.

In 2018/19 these producers had total supplies of 203 million litres of which 71 million litres were supplies for liquid consumption, which represented 16% of total registered supplies for liquid consumption.

The continuing registered producers were allowed to increase their eligible winter supplies to meet market requirements.

Registered producers with All Year Round contracts in 2018/19 had average annual supplies of 670,000L compared with 616,000L in the previous year, an increase of 9%, the report said.