Carola Godman Irvine. Farmer, Campaigner & Columnist. 06-07-22

  • Written by Carola Godman Irvine
  • Posted on Jul 06, 2022
  • Articles

Dairy Board chairman, Michael Oakes, unveiled results of a survey amongst 700 members, designed to assess producers’ thoughts on the industry.

15% said they were considering stopping milk production by 2024. Small producers: supplying less than one million litres, were the majority of those intending to stop.

He said: “People are worried about insufficient returns in the marketplace, increased costs and the impact of Government regulation including reducing cow numbers, and the cost of meeting those regulations”.

Despite recent increases in payments from processors, Arla is offering 50ppl from this month, there is clearly cause for concern. The dairy industry has improved efficiencies dramatically over the past 30 years; in 1996 there were 2,587million dairy cattle in the UK, which dropped to 1,850million by 2020. The survey suggests they will drop again by 7% by 2024.

Despite cow numbers decreasing significantly, yield has escalated from 4,100lts to 8,200lts per cow, with our domestic milk production increasing by 14%.

Milk consumption has dropped, but butter, cheese and yogurt sales have increased.

Small family farms producing less than 1million litres per year are more likely to stop milking and change direction towards beef, sheep, diversification, or farmers deciding to retire earlier than planned. It should not be forgotten that dairy farmers are the custodians of millions of acres of pastureland, a value we cannot afford to lose, along with generations of experience.

As Mr Oakes said, “Now the UK is ‘no longer tethered to Europe’, dairy farmers have an opportunity to boost production and market share. As this Government has a free trade agenda, and production is falling across Europe and moving further east, there is a real opportunity for us to fulfil some of those markets”.

The UK is the thirteenth-largest milk producer in the world, which can be improved upon, but dairy farmers must feel confident about future markets and income.

The headline stated, “The corporate world has been overrun by wokeness”. The story was accompanied by images of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I wonder if there is much dairy in their products?

The thrust of the article was that B & J’s decided to interfere in Middle Eastern politics, by banning sales to and condemning Israel. Several corporations are jumping on political bandwagons, such as: Coca Cola, Nike, Black Rock, Halifax, and others which should be advised to stick to marketing their products, not fuel the woke, green, political, anti-freedom of speech agenda.  

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