Tonight I honour a very special member of our community. Weighing in at 600 kilograms on average, she is one of our country's hardest-working labourers. Raised on a dairy farm on the South Coast, from her birth she was marked for greatness, and greatness is indeed what she has achieved. Cow 1055 is one of Australia's most productive dairy cows. In her lifetime, she has given birth to 13 calves and produced 120 kilolitres of milk. To put this in context, that is 120,000 one-litre cartons of milk—and that is a lot of milk. She sets the benchmark and leads with a legacy of exemplary behaviour to other cows and cooperation with her farmers.
She has maintained a very strict routine every milking session, multiple times throughout the day. She has been well behaved. Cow 1055 has not been overeating but rather has maintained a strict diet made up of a mixture of grasses and grains. Cow 1055 represents more than 1.6 million dairy cows in Australia, which on average produce approximately 5,000 litres of milk each per year. Nationally, Australia produces nine billion litres of whole milk a year. This is approximately 3,600 Olympic swimming pools or 13 million box trailer loads of milk.
New South Wales is home to 490 of the 6,400 dairy farms nationwide, and milks 150,000 dairy cows.
Dairy is worth about $2.4 billion, making it the third - largest agricultural industry in Australia. Fifty per cent of dairy production is exported, making Australia is the world's third - largest dairy exporter. The dairy industry makes a valued contribution to the Australian economy. New South Wales alone contributes 722 million litres of milk a year, making up 8 per cent of the national milk production and 7 per cent of agricultural export income. It is important to me that farmers — that is, the men, women and children — are recognised because, whether rain, hail or shine, our dairy farmers work seven days a week, 365 days a year to provide fresh, quality milk for our communities.
Australian dairy cattle produce an average of 35-50 litres of milk every day. In a farmer's world there are many risks and challenges to be faced. A particular challenge is dealing with animals with disease. Recently, I received the upsetting news that a farm on the South Coast lost 250 cows due to botulism. Botulism is a rare poisoning caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. In this case rats infected the cattle feed, and the farm faced a fatal loss of stock and is now in crisis. This farmer has now lost a huge portion of his livestock and continuing investment in an operation from which we all benefit.
Dairy farmers must continue to have access to financial and health and wellbeing support. The Australian dairy industry has been completely deregulated for the past 18 years. The current farm gate dairy milk price is 49¢ a litre. A bottle of water costs more. With the prices of dairy products being set by market forces, dairy farmers are forced to sell their dairy for less than they need to cover production costs.
Australia's proximity to Asia has enabled strong trade benefits to our economy. In the Australian domestic market, the most popular dairy products consumed by Australians are milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. I thank dairy farmers, their families and communities who work tirelessly from sunrise to sundown each day. These Aussie heroes give us the milk in our coffees, ice cream, milkshakes, the cream on our scones, and the butter on our toast. They would not be able to do it without cows like cow 1055.