Costs of production on dairy farms have risen by over 11% in the past three years, putting great pressure on farmers’ profit margins.

And with many farms due for essential reinvestment, how can producers find the time and the money to take their businesses forward?

The answer, says Simon Thelwell of English Farming and Food Partnerships, is to collaborate with other farmers.

“The industry is good at collaboration higher up the chain, but less than 8% of dairy farmers collaborate at the production end.

Collaboration can help you to improve your profitability, improve your lifestyle and reduce risk.”

By working together farmers have greater economies of scale, lower costs and better use of resources, says Mr Thelwell.

They also have more fun, more time off, and are more enthusiastic about the future.

EFFP is running a series of meetings to show farmers how collaboration can work in the dairy industry, featuring seven case studies of producers who are already reaping the benefits.

These range from machinery sharing to fully integrated share farming.

“People who are working together are part of a much stronger business and are more motivated about moving forward,” says Mr Thelwell.

“They also have more time for a better family life.”

With many farms coming up for reinvestment, producers could cut capital costs and share the risk by working together, he adds.

“You are also likely to find it easier to get a loan from the bank.”

Farmers who are interested in collaboration should either contact EFFP or speak to their local consultant who may be able to match up like-minded people.

“We are also looking at setting up an online match-making service.

It really is worthwhile looking into; whether you’re sharing cows, equipment, labour, land or buildings, the opportunities to reduce costs by working together are endless and should be explored to the full.”

olivia.cooper@rbi.co.uk