14 June 2002

Milk production races on but butterfat low

MILK production for May hit another record high, with the largest volume filling bulk tanks since the corresponding month in 1990. But a low butterfat meant the month ended only slightly over the Charles Holt/farmers weekly profile.

Provisional Rural Payment Agency figures released on Tuesday (Jun 11) put May production at 1.35bn litres – 46.5m litres ahead of the eight-year average. However, a low butterfat of just 3.87% left the month only 16.8m litres above profile.

The cumulative surplus is now 65.2m litres, but consultant Charles Holt, of the Farm Consultancy Group, predicts a reduction in milk from the next few months onwards, due to poor silage and falling milk prices.

Silage in the middle and north of the country has been "appalling", which is bound to impact on milk production through the winter, says Mr Holt, who expects the milk year to end about 10-20m litres over profile.

Quota trade has been slow over the past 10 days, with prices falling by 0.1p/litre for leasing to 3.4p/litre, and down 0.5p/litre for sales to 19.5p/litre.

Tony Carver, of quota agent Carver Knowles, says: "I suspect these figures will bring the question of quota back into the minds of producers, especially those who are seriously exposed."

But while values could regain some ground, they are unlikely to shoot up, he adds. &#42