Smaller producers are the most impacted by the ongoing market situation
Dairy Intentions Survey by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) of England and Wales has found that insufficient returns, volatile markets, and the scale of on-farm investment required are all reasons why many of Britain’s dairy farmers are thinking hard about their future in the dairy sector.
The survey of almost 600 UK dairy farmers revealed that almost 10 per cent of dairy producers say they are likely to stop producing milk by 2025, with smaller producers being the most impacted by the ongoing market situation. In addition to those who are looking to stop production all together, a further 23 per cent of all milk producers have said they are ‘unsure’ if they are going to continue production beyond the next two years.
Smaller enterprises producing less than 1 million litres of milk per year are also more likely to stop production before March 2025, compared to those producing higher volumes.
The survey also revealed that increases in input prices such as feed (84 per cent), energy (83 per cent), and fertiliser (74 per cent) are all particular areas of worry. Over half (52 per cent) of producers stopping production are unable to keep up with the scale of investment required for their enterprise to stay compliant, such as slurry storage, a factor that is highlighted as a main concern for the majority (91 per cent) when considering whether to increase production in the future.
Regarding the wider environmental framework dairy farmers operate in, the NFU is lobbying to ensure regulation is fit for purpose, works alongside profitable, productive food production, and that environmental support schemes, such as the SFI (Sustainable Farming Incentive), provide a financially attractive and accessible offer to dairy farmers.