Average total factor productivity measures for the dairy industry provide an insight into how the industry is performing as a whole, but reveal little about what may be happening on individual farms. A case study of an irrigated dairy farm in northern Victoria, over a 37-year period, found that total milk production and some measures of partial productivity increased substantially. The economic performance of this case study farm over the 37-year period is described and analysed. From records of income and expenses, operating profit, returns to capital, labour and management and total productivity measures were calculated. Between 1980 and 2000, the business achieved productivity gains at higher than the rate estimated for the whole industry. This performance was related to the timing and sequence of developments on the farm, with investment in land and infrastructure occurring prior to the 1990s, followed by a period of intensification involving increasing herd size and supplementary feed use.


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