4 December 1998

Dairy outgoers hasten decline

RURAL areas are under threat from the wholesale departure of dairy farmers from the industry.

The annual retirement rate has doubled to 6% in the past year, Milk Marque chairman Poul Christensen told delegates at a Farmer Forum.

"You have to be concerned for large chunks of this country, where milk is the mainstay of the rural economy and the cornerstone of the rural infrastructure."

Recent figures suggest an average net margin/cow of £40, totalling £3200 for an 80-cow herd, said Mr Christensen. "You cant keep body and soul together on that."