Water

Change spurs shift

By Country News

A shift towards partial and total mixed ration farming systems has been the trend since 2006, in particular as the landscape of the dairy industry in the Murray Dairy region continues to change.

Speaking at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences Regional Conference in Shepparton last week, Murray Dairy’s Jenny Wilson spoke about how the industry has changed since deregulation.

‘‘We are a rapidly changing industry,’’ Mrs Wilson said.

‘‘Since deregulation in the late 1990s we’ve seen the industry challenged on several fronts. This includes the millennium drought, changes in water policy and the opening up of competitive water markets.

‘‘(In the Murray Dairy region) We’ve seen a big shift away from low input pasture-based systems to partial mixed ration systems and total mixed ration systems.

‘‘PMR systems that we see in this region are quite variable; and often what we see in a year of improved water availability and price, people often slip back into a high water use scenario — so it’s not a stable system or stable environment.’’

Mrs Wilson also explained the characteristics of farmers who were doing well during what is a difficult period for the industry.

‘‘What we see is those that are planning and have their risk management in place, have water portfolio options available to them, have equity and are seeking that advice from across the industry — they’re the ones doing well,’’ she said.