Dairy: A Costly Business

Media Release
Wednesday 25 May 2016

According to Animal Justice Party Senate candidate, Bruce Poon “producing milk is a costly business.”
There is a myriad of costs including the obvious costs to the animals themselves, such as the cruel separation of mothers and calves, often within the first 24 hours of life. There is also the premature slaughter (usually in their first week of life) of healthy, mostly male calves, considered to be waste products [1].
There are dangerous costs to the environment due to dairy farming being the largest water consuming industry. A thirsty industry, dairy requires at least 500 litres of fresh water to produce just one litre of milk. [3]
In Victoria, the industry is responsible for the consumption of 54% of the state’s agricultural water and uses 53% of the state’s irrigated land. [3]
In its 2015 report [2], the Australian Climate Council reported that since the mid-1990s, Australia’s South East has experienced between 15 and 25 percent declines in rainfall and more frequent and severe droughts.
In coming years, southern Australia is predicted to be hit the hardest by droughts of increasing severity and duration. It is this part of Australia that is also the heart of dairy country with Victoria comprising 71% of the Australian dairy industry and NSW being the second largest producer. [3]
“Droughts are disastrous for human and animal health, agriculture, and Australian native animals. As highlighted in the Australian Climate Council report, suicide risk for farmers has increased by 15% in relation to drought severity.”
“The farmers themselves have reached out for mental health assistance in the wake of this recent dairy crisis; this another major cost of the dairy industry. Dairy farmers are operating in drought stricken country – an unsustainable endeavour, and the odds are stacked against them. For the sake of their mental health, their livelihood and the health of the environment, dairy farmers should be receiving support and guidance for transitioning to sustainable employment.”
“Although the dairy industry is considered to be an important part of the Australian economy, its drain on water is also costly to the economy. In fact, by mid-2010 the Australian government had paid $4.4 billion in direct drought assistance to farmers.” [2]
“Other environmental costs include the methane and nitrous oxide produced by the cows’ digestive systems which make significant, and untaxed, contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions.” [4]
“In addition to the costs to the animals, farmers, and the environment, there are damaging health effects of dairy consumption, not without significant health care cost implications.”
“Decades of research show that, rather than being health-promoting, consuming milk or dairy products contributes to the risk of a string of diseases including prostate [5] and ovarian cancers [6], autoimmune diseases, and certain childhood ailments [7, 8], Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis [9], insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.” [10]
“Considering the facts and science about dairy, it is clear that the most responsible course of action is to transition away from animal-based milk and dairy, to humane, sustainable, and healthy plant-based milks.”

  1. Villanueva, G.N. (May, 2016). Dairy farmers are being ‘milked dry’ but let’s remember the real cost of milk, https://theconversation.com/dairy-farmers-are-being-milked-dry-but-lets-remember-the-real-cost-of-milk.
  2. The Australian Climate Council (2015). Thirsty country: Climate change and drought in Australia. http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/37d4a0d2a372656332d75d0163d9e8b8.pdf
  3. Khan, S., Abbas, A., Rana, T., & Carroll, J. (2010). Dairy water use in Australian dairy farms: Past trends and future prospects. http://www.clw.csiro.au/publications/waterforahealthycountry/2010/wfhc-dairy-water-use-australia.pdf
  4. Sevenster, M., & de Jong (2008). A sustainable dairy sector: Global, regional and life cycle facts and figures on greenhouse-gas emissions. http://www.cedelft.eu/art/uploads/file/08_7798_48.pdf
  5. Mitrou, P.N., Albanes, D., Weinstein, S.J., Pietinen, P., Taylor, P.R., Virtamo, J., & Leitzmann, M.F. (2007). A prospective study of dietary calcium, dairy products and prostate cancer risk (Finland). International Journal of Cancer, 120, 2466-2473.
  6. Larsson, S.C., Orsini, N., & Wolk, A. (2006). Milk, milk products, and lactose intake and ovarian cancer risk: A meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. International Journal of Cancer118, 431-441.
  7. Campbell, T.C. & Campbell, T. M. (2006). The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health. Benbella Books: Dallas.
  8. Keon, J. (2010). Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth about Cow’s Milk and your Health. Canada, New Society Publishers.
  9. Malosse, D., Perron, H., Sasco, A., & Seigneurin, J.M. (1992). Correlation between milk and dairy product consumption and multiple sclerosis prevalence: A worldwide study.Neuroepidemiology, 11, 304-312.S
  10. Lawlor, D.A., Ebrahim, S., Timpson, N., & Davey Smith, G. (2005). Avoiding milk is associated with a reduced risk of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome: Findings from the British Women's Heart and Health Study. Diabetic Medicine, 22, 808-811.



Contacts for comment:
AJP Victorian Senate Candidate Bruce Poon: phone 0400 248 226; Email: [email protected]
AJP Western Australian Senate Candidate Katrina Love: phone 0401674588; Email: [email protected]