dairy cows© Tim Scrivener

Dairy farmers remain as optimistic about their industry’s future as they were last year, according to research at the AHDB outlook conference.

Levy board DairyCo’s latest intentions survey found a third of British farmers planned to increase milk production over the next two years – about the same proportion as 2014.

About 60% of farmers also said they would aim to produce the same amount, while another third said they planned to invest in farm buildings or equipment over the next five years.

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The positive results come despite milk prices crashing in the last 12 months, with some farmers losing more than 10p/litre since the spring.

Auctioneers have estimated that 1,000 dairy farmers could quit milking this year, with markets still on the floor.

In the survey, the proportion of dairy farmers planning to leave the sector rose from 4% in 2014 to 6% this year.

AHDB acting senior analyst Luke Crossman said the results suggested a long-term commitment to the industry, even though prices were yet to stabilise.

“There are glimmers of this with the recent Global Dairy Trade auctions, but there could be a bit of a lag before wholesale prices – and thus farmgate prices – react,” he said.

“However, the longer margins remain under pressure the more farmers may consider the future of their business.”

The survey was carried out in December 2014 and polled the views of 850 British farmers.