By Robert Harris

NATIONAL milk output continued to struggle last month, according to the latest figures released by the Intervention Board.

The volume of milk delivered to dairies was put at just 1.29 billion litres, slightly less than May 2000, itself a poor month.

The IB is no longer issuing a monthly quota profile.

However, Charles Holt, of the Farm Consultancy Group, has developed his own profile using the average monthly production figures for the past five years, and the same butterfat figures as last year.

According to this guide, dairies received 1.28bn butterfat-adjusted litres, a shortfall of 53m litres compared with profile.

This takes the cumulative deficit for the first two months of the milk year to 114.2m litres, or 4.45%.

“A lot of people think that cows are milking well – and so they are,” says Mr Holt. “But there just arent enough to go round.”

More producers left the industry last year, and foot-and-mouth has taken its toll on the national herd. “I reckon that 100,000 cows have been lost to foot-and-mouth, which would have produced 700 million litres a year.”

Lease prices continue to hover around the 1ppl mark for 4% adjusted supplies, and 4% sales at about 13ppl, says Mr Holt.

“We should see some easing on both fronts, but sale values will not collapse. I dont think vendors will let it go for much less.”

He believes most dairy farmers can look to the winter with confidence.

“Milk is likely to remain short, which should help prices and, with cheap lease quota and good silage stocks, there is plenty of potential for a reasonable winter.”

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