New Zealand's regional economies earned about $14.3 billion from dairy farms in 2013-2014, taking the lion's share of national dairy earnings, industry group DairyNZ said.
In total, the New Zealand economy was estimated to have earned $17.6 billion from dairy exports that year, the farmer-funded group said.
Chief executive Tim Mackle said DairyNZ's economic survey showed the sector contributed about 31 per cent more than in the previous year and put much of those earnings back into growth, farm spending and jobs.
"Our latest survey shows the financial value that dairy farmers bring into each province, helping grow residents' wealth even if they are not dairy farming themselves," Mackle said in the report.
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Dairy's boost to rural economies was consistent with the national trend. National dairy export revenue soared by 30 per cent to $17.6 billion in 2013-14, said a recent Situation and Outlook 2014 report from the Ministry of Primary Industries.
New Zealand's dairy export revenue was expected to rise in the future, reaching $18.4 billion by the year ending June 30, 2018, based on a modest rise in domestic production, increasing international prices and a depreciating NZ dollar, the ministry report said.
DairyNZ's 2013-14 estimates showed the top provincial performer in dairying was again Waikato, which earned $3.80 billion, followed by Canterbury with $2.7 7 billion, Southland with $1.72 billion and Taranaki with $1.44 billion.
Hawkes Bay produced the least value at $124 million.
In Waikato there were 11,630 total direct dairy jobs in 2012, followed by Canterbury with 5842 workers and Taranaki with 4085.
• Total dairy farm businesses
Waikato - 4057
Taranaki - 1734
Northland - 1092
• Contribution per cow
Nelson - $3599
Canterbury - $3354
Southland - $3224