Friday, 7 November 2014

First Milk Dairy Farmers Meeting

Hawthorn berries gleaming like rubies in the almost bare hedgerows.

Yesterday the Farmer & I attended a meeting of dairy farmers who sell their milk to First Milk (www.firstmilk.co.uk). First Milk is farmer's co-operative and about 150 members from Wales attended the meeting held at Nant y Ffin (www.nantyffin.co.uk),LLandissilio in Pembrokeshire.
Chairing the meeting was Sir Jim Paice MP, chairman of First Milk & former minister of food.
The state of the dairy industry is fairly dire at present, not just in the UK but globally. Many farmers are being paid less than the cost of production for their milk and there is a drop in demand which has not been helped by the Russian embargo on UK dairy products. 2/3 of Europe's dairy produce was exported to Russia and without that market there is a massive over supply of milk & milk products in Europe. The price paid to dairy farmers is not going to improve until production and supply drops and demand goes up.
To reduce production is not a simple matter; when a dairy cow is put in calf the decision has been made for what happens with the cow in 5 years time when she will be in full milk production. Many farms are planning to expand but while the current low in the industry will eventually change, we all have to weather this difficult time. We are very fortunate that as organic producers things are are a little better in the organic sector but nonetheless the situation affects everyone in the dairy industry one way or another.
A final thought - 50,000 farmers & farm workers are employed on dairy farms in the UK. Next time you buy a pint of milk think about the many people involved in producing that pint.
For information on all things dairy see www.thisisdairyfarming.com.

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