Considering the long-term impact of coronavirus for the dairy industry

By Eric Danzi, Qdo Executive Officer
Updated April 6 2020 - 12:50am, first published 12:22am
The long-term impact of coronavirus for the dairy industry

The world has been turned upside down over the past month. The impacts on most people's lives are extreme and this is likely to last for many weeks or months to come. As well as the personal toll, the financial impacts of coronavirus are unprecedented and are likely to be greater than World War II. Already it is having a devastating impact on the economy and will likely lead to a major recession.

In an effort to stave off a recession for Australia, both state and federal government financial packages to individuals and to businesses have been astonishing. But it all comes at a cost; it will lead to high debt levels which will probably take 10 years for the country to pay back.

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In addition, the private sector will face a massive financial hit. Although the impacts on businesses will be partially offset by government spending, most businesses will be in a far worse financial position compared to pre-pandemic.

So what does all this mean?

It means that all industries will have to tighten their belts substantially and accept that this will probably take at least five years to recover from. The amount of money that businesses will have will be less, and the amount that state and federal government have to spend will also be reduced. This will have a domino effect, devastating businesses outside of the initial hit.

When the dust settles over the coronavirus, it is critical that all levels of government assist industry to rebuild and make significant funding available for this to occur.

As we are an essential industry like the rest of agriculture, the dairy industry has been able to continue operating during this time of crisis. Even though we have fared OK during the chaos to date, the long-term impacts could still be severe as we manage production when our export markets are in jeopardy.

While the state and federal stimulus packages and other financial support have been welcome and necessary to steer our nation's economy through this troubled time; the government cannot take a short-term approach. It is going to be a long road back to a properly functioning economy and long-term projects and ongoing advocacy for our industry does not and cannot stop.

There are several good reasons why dairy and all agricultural industries are considered essential to the wellbeing and future of Australia. State and federal government need to be considerate of the long-term impacts on the economy and industries such as dairy beyond the next six to 12 months.

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