By FWi staff

A QUARTER of Welsh dairy farmers who took part in an NFU survey in October made no profit at all over the previous year.

quota link Bruton Knowles

While 88 of the 100 producers questioned at the Welsh Dairy Event in Carmarthen claimed to be family farmers, 38 said no family member was prepared to follow them into the business.

The principal reason cited was the fall in income over the last decade.

All those questioned said they made a profit in 1990, and 48 had an income of over 30,000.

But in the 12 months up to October, 59 claimed to have net incomes of less than 10,000, and a quarter quoted figures of less than 1000.

Figures released this week by the National Assembly for Wales confirm that the average net income of Welsh dairy farms was 14,000 in 1999/00, and the provisional figure for the current year is 7300, a fall of 47%.

Asked what actions they were taking to survive the crisis, 30 of those questioned were expanding their herds, and 12 were diversifying.

Despite all the problems, 53 expected the profitability of milk production to improve in the future. However, 11 anticipated selling their herds and quitting the industry.

Presenting the survey results, Denbighshire producer and chairman of the NFUs milk and dairy produce committee Terrig Morgan said: “We have an industry on a knife edge with a huge number clinging on to their businesses by their fingertips.”

A milk price of 21ppl was needed to cover costs, and at least 24ppl for a viable, sustainable industry that could reinvest.