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Increased milk solids and a higher payout in the 2013-14 season boosted the value of dairy production up from $535 million in the previous season, DairyNZ analysis has showed.
Regional economies earned about $14.3 billion from dairy farms in 2013-14, taking the lion's share of national dairy earnings.
It was estimated the New Zealand economy earned $17.6 billion from dairy exports that year.
DairyNZ's recent economic survey showed the industry contributed about 40% more than the previous year and injected much of that back into growth, farm spending and jobs, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said.
Waikato retained its position as the country's top provincial performer in dairying, earning $3.8 billion, followed by Canterbury at $2.77 billion, Southland ($1.72 billion) and Taranaki ($1.44 billion).
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said the figures for Otago were significant, not only in terms of the actual number, but also with the growth.
Everyone was well aware how important the dairy sector was for the New Zealand economy and the fact that Otago was playing such an important role was ''good news'', he said.
Dairy employees in Otago, which did not count farm business owners, numbered 1942 in 2012-13, which was 2% of total regional employment.
The boost to rural economies follows national dairy export revenue soaring by 30% to 17.6 billion in 2013-14, the Ministry for Primary Industries' 2014 Situation and Outlook report showed.
Dairy export revenue was expected to rise in the future, reaching $18.4 billion by the year ending 30 June 2018, based on a modest rise in domestic production, increasing international dairy prices, and a depreciating kiwi dollar.
A good start to the new milk season was anticipated, with farmers enjoying a mild winter, although a little too wet for some regions, Rabobank's agribusiness monthly report said.
May export volumes were up almost 13% over the previous year as milk production recovered from the 2013 drought.
Export destinations were more widely spread than previous months as China loosened its grip on New Zealand product and reduced its share of monthly export volumes to 25%.