Geography of Dairy Farming

Class Work ~ Questions on the Dairy Industry

Environmental Impacts

Greenhouse Gases-

Cows produce methane and nitrous oxide in their digestive system. These gases are a lot stronger that Carbon Dioxide. Therefore the Australian Dairy Industry contributes to 3% of the global green gas emissions.

Water & Land Use-

The Industry uses up a lot of land and water. In total Dairy Farming uses more than 12% of the total water used in Australia!


This occurs for the need to produce cattle feed and make land for farming.

Large Manure Production-

Cows can produce up to 54 kg of wet manure per day! This manure pollutes water and soil and can disturb the natural nutrient balance needed for plant growth.

Soil Degradation-

The Dairy Industry is one of the main contributors to soil erosion around the world. Turning forests into pasture, overgrazing and soil impaction from cattle's hooves can lead to extreme loss of top soil that will take numerous years to replace.

Animal Welfare and Health-

Cattle lacking proper care tend to be more stressed and less productive. Disease in cattle can limit exports, pose supply risks and contribute to productive inefficiencies.

Social Impacts

Problems with the Milk-

Some cows are given hormones by farmers in order to make more milk faster. However this can lead to problems with the milk.


The Dairy Industry, being Australia's 3rd largest rural industry, employes over 43, 000 people to work in the parlours, on the farm and in the factories and over 100, 000 other people to work indirectly, such as in an office. It provides many jobs to families all over Australia.

Utilisation of Milk-

Milk is utilised for many foods, creams etc. Without its production, a lot of our exports such as Milk Powder and Cheese, would't be abundant, thus not bringing much revenue into our economy.

Economic Impacts

Economic Stimulation-

The dairy industry has an estimated value of $13 billion including export income. It has a net contribution of over $6.9 billion to Australia's economy and is vital to local economy.


Australian dairy manufacturers export 725, 000 tonnes of dairy products to 110 countries.

Current Issues Related to Dairy Farming and the Perspectives Held by Different Interest Parties

Current Issues Include:


  • Access to Water- Harsh Australian droughts make this even worse
  • Waste Management- Carbon Emissions
  • Retail Milk Price- Some farmers have to close their farms due to the low revenue given to them from the big supermarkets in order to make the retail milk price cheaper
  • Labour- Shortage of Labour may be due to cutting back of costs or just that not enough people want to work on the farm. This can lead to lower production rates.

Animal Welfare Groups (such as RSCPA)-

  • Bad animal conditions- Farmers may use hormones and the like to increase the efficiency of production, however this raises many moral issues and also leads to problems with the milk.


  • Resource Management- A lot of resources such as land, has been put into the Dairy Industry and people argue whether too much resources have been given to farmers.
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Roles of Individuals, Groups, and Governments Involved in the Decision-Making Process

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How Important is the Dairy Industry and Where is it Heading?

The dairy industry is vital to not only the Australian economy, but to its people. Without it, our GDP would be lower, our economy would be weaker, and we would have to import a lot more of our milk based products such as milk, chocolate, soaps etc., thus bringing tariffs into the issue and heavily raising the price. Other than the economic aspect, the Dairy Industry is a part of our Australian identity and without it, we would be missing a piece of our Australian culture. The Dairy Industry is going into both good and bad directions in the future. On one hand, China has begun to invest more in our Dairy Exports and more countries are beginning to add onto the 110 countries already receiving our Dairy exports, thus bringing in more revenue and stimulating the economy further, however on the other in order to support the rising demand, more land and more resources are needed. Currently they are rapidly being deleted and this will only add onto this. There would also be an increased Carbon Footprint by dairy industry because of this.