Milk production in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since deregulation, according to estimates from the Rural Payments Agency.

Provisional wholesale milk deliveries in August were 1.103bn litres, a drop of 33m litres compared with the same period last year.

Milk production from April to August was 5.9bn litres, 69m litres lower than the previous year and the lowest figure since the break up of the Milk Marketing boards 13 years ago.

NFU Scotland said the drop in production was partly due to farmers quitting the industry due to poor milk prices.

Unsettled weather, leading to poorer grazing and lower yields, has also caused production to fall, the NFUS said.

These tighter milk supplies, coupled with higher on-farm production costs and increased prices for butter, skimmed milk powder and cream, should see farmgate prices increased, the NFUS said.

“These latest production figures strengthen the case for a price rise as supply is the tightest it has been since deregulation,” NFUS milk committee chairman Willie Lamont said.

“More dairy farmers are going to have to buy in feed as the silage cut this year was relatively poor quality [due to weather problems].

“That means a rise in production costs, which we desperately need our customers to recognise.”