A review of the dairy industry during 1991-92 has shown a strong result with record milk production, expanded dairy exports, and increased income for dairy farmers.
Agriculture Minister Ernie Bridge said the industry had undergone significant reform, with the Government initiating changes to licensing zones and the quota system.
Mr Bridge noted that concerns expressed by some sectors about the likely impact of those changes had not been borne out.
"What has emerged is a gradual and successful shift of milk production to the more efficient milk producing regions and farmers," he said.
Milk production rose to 302 million litres over the 12 months, a 23 per cent increase on levels three years ago, with the additional volume of manufacturing milk generating about $5.5 million last financial year for dairy farmers in the South-West.
That increase averaged out at an additional $10,200 per licensed dairy farmer.
Mr Bridge said the Dairy Industry Authority's annual report for 1991-92 attributed the rise in milk production to good seasonal conditions, attractive farm gate prices, relatively restrained input prices, and continued improvement in animal husbandry practices.
The report said the local dairy industry would enter the coming year in a relatively healthy condition, although factors such as climate and price discounting in the local marketplace could influence short-term financial performance.
Farm incomes were expected to be maintained in nominal and real terms.
Mr Bridge said statistics compiled by the DIA showed a continuing move by Western Australian consumers towards reduced-fat milk, which now represented almost 23 per cent of total market milk sales.
Overall, reduced-fat milk sales increased by 12.6 per cent to more than 34 million litres, while full-fat milk sales fell marginally by 1.7 per cent to just over 107 million litres.
Mr Bridge said most of the additional milk production went into manufactured products, with strong increases in butter, cheese and milk powder production. A corresponding reduction in imports to WA for those lines was evident.
For example, sales of locally produced butter rose about 54 per cent, while sales of imported butter fell around 21 per cent. The amount of cheese imported into Western Australia fell by almost six per cent, despite a small increase in total cheese sales.
Mr Bridge said milk powder continued to be WA's strongest dairy export product, with a 27 per cent increase recorded on the previous year.
The record 302 million litres of milk was produced by 550 dairy farmers from an estimated 66,000 dairy cows in WA, with almost half the total milk output supplied by dairy farms in the Shire of Augusta/Margaret River, Busselton and Capel.