WA dairy prepares for future

28 Mar, 2002 07:00 PM
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WESTERN Dairy's Innovation Day at Boyanup was used as a platform to release the Regional Action Plan, a set of strategies for WA dairy farmers to meet changing environmental standards while remaining viable into the future.

In a lead up to the official launch of the action plan by Agriculture Minister Kim chance, CSIRO Resources Futures Group leader Dr Barney Foran gave a taste of things to come time.

He said WA's population would be about 2.6m in 2050, which indicated that if the industry wanted to expand it would still need to export.

Japan imported $340 million worth of cheese but its population was aging and economic growth was slowing with the same scenario predicted for Singapore in a few years time.

However Egypt and the Philippines were possible growth markets if they could pay.

Dr Foran said food security would be an issue for some third world countries in the future with opinion being that China would be able to feed itself but India could be in "deep yoghurt".

Also looming on the horizon was an energy crisis as oil wells started to dry up. Australia faced a domestic oil deficit in 20 years. "From about 2020 there will be considerable volatility over who gets the oil," he said.

He said big industry had to start planning to reduce its energy and look at alternatives to fossil fuel energy. Gas was a good medium as an oil replacement.

Meanwhile the climate was warming due to greenhouse gas emissions and animals would have to leave northern Australia and parts of eastern Australia.

Dr Foran said it was already possible, through triple bottom line accounting, to calculate economic benefits as well as social and environmental impacts from dairying.

He said there would be much more numerate scrutiny of all production systems in the future.

The Western Dairy Regional Action Plan aimed to help WA dairy farmers better manage natural resources, protect the environment while remaining viable.

Off-site impacts were expected to have a big influence on future natural resource management in the dairy industry.

Some work still to be done in WA included containing fertiliser run-off within property boundaries and minimising encroaching salinity.

"The State Government support's Western Dairy's view that the best case scenario is a situation where producers are recognised as responsible managers of sustainable farm units using best management practice," Mr Chance said.

"Most producers are already adopting responsible farming methods, but there is a need to be pro-active and for some benchmarks to be set."

"Dairying is becoming increasingly intensive and producers are expanding operations to remain profitable for the future.

"But there are several issues that may impact on the industry's ability to increase production including possible water restrictions and land use due to urban encroachment on rural areas."

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