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Dairy industry productivity poster from World War Two

Dairy industry productivity poster from World War Two

This poster was issued by the Commonwealth Food Control during World War Two. The poster was designed to encourage dairy farmers to produce more milk to support Australia’s war effort. The comic book style illustrations and wording were common features of this series of posters, perhaps introducing humour and stimulating goodwill in a time of uncertainty. The poster highlights productivity gains for the farmers through government subsidies, machinery pools, more workers and industry marketing – now it was up to the farmers to deliver for their country!

Australia’s food supply was well organised at the outbreak of World War Two. The Government had started planning for food control in 1938 to protect the economy and primary industries and to make sure food supplies could be transported overseas quickly. Arrangements were made for Britain to take food surpluses. As the war progressed the shortage of shipping space for exports became an issue, the rural workforce declined, machinery deteriorated and production fell.

In 1940 the Government faced the very real possibility of a Japanese invasion and the Emergency Supplies Plan was initiated to safeguard civilian food supplies if Australia was invaded or if internal transport was disrupted. Grocery stores around the country were given reserve supplies and Government stores were set up.

In May 1943 the Commonwealth Food Control was established to cope with potential food shortages. The main factors affecting supplies were a large increase in Australia’s military force; the arrival of American forces based in Australia and demands for butter and meat from Britain especially as American food supplies were diverted to Russia.

The Government worked with industries through the Commonwealth Food Control to overcome obstacles to maximising food production.  A section within Food Control was responsible for solving rural workforce shortages, acquiring machinery and expanding factories.

Dairy farmers from around the Bega Valley no doubt responded positively to the call to increase production of milk, cheese and butter in support of the war effort.


Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth Food Control feature article, Year Book Australia, No. 35, 1942-43, p. 921 at http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/free.nsf/LookupAttach/1301.0Publication01.01.42210/$File/13010_1942-43_ControlOfFood.pdf


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