Is British milk doomed because the government is in hock to the supermarkets and the global exim casino?
When will government turn away from wealthy supermarkets and the exim casino traders and play fair with struggling food producers?
Ian Potter, a milk quota trader and administrator of the National Fallen Stock Scheme received the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers’ Princess Royal Award in 2011, for his outstanding services to the industry and unique role as a disseminator of up-to-date information through his website and regular press articles.
At least once a month, Ian Potter releases news about the dairy industry. February’s account, which has not yet reached the website, is summarised here.
Ian learned from a couple of prominent dairy cow auctioneers that the majority of farmers wanting or needing to exit accept that volatility (aka roller coaster milk prices) is here to stay, and that many are now seriously considering getting out now cow values are higher.
The feeling is that significantly increased herd values will result in some going into early retirement, especially those with no one following on. That last price slump went beyond the feeling among many farmers that quitting was in some way letting the family down.
Many sons and daughters witnessed what their parents went through, and they don’t want to go through it themselves.
At least the farmers involved currently have control of the situation and their destination, rather than waiting for crippling prices to force a decision on them.
Ian urges farmers to think twice as prices rise, ‘knocking on the door of 30ppl’, before bringing in extra cows to their herds. Most dairy farmers have ruthlessly reduced cost and maximised milk from grass and that knowledge and experience should be used to regain lost income and start to build a war chest for the next big downturn.
Ian forecasts, “It will come sooner than you expect, it will hurt, and it could easily be another three-year slump”.
One idea to restore a liquid premium is the recent launch of free range milk and its intriguing idea of a ‘Black Top promise’. An online search revealed video news of the launch of this ‘branding campaign’
Nick Hiscox, the founder of the Free Range Milk Marketing Board, has come up with the idea to tackle plummeting milk prices: putting milk on the shelf that bears the “Enjoy Milk” logo, capped with a black top.
The key feature of the milk is that it is supplied from cows that graze on grass, outside in the summer and housed inside in the winter. The alternative set-up, known as “zero grazing”, is when cows are kept indoors, all year round. This method is used by around 20% of dairy farms in the UK. 700 dairy farmers have joined the scheme and others will do so.
Two of many questions are raised here:
Will this campaign improve the fortunes of the British dairy industry?
When will government take the issue of food security seriously?