3 March 2000

Research could save farmers 1000s of £s

DAIRY farmers could save an average of £16,000 if they applied research funded by the Milk Development Council over the past year to their businesses.

"A significant number of farmers are missing several tricks," claims MDC chief executive, Peter Merson. "These include rigorous attention to cost control, dealing with infertility and better pasture management.

"These require a fair degree of application, but put together could save farmers that sort of money."

An average farmer producing 600,000 litres a year would have spent just £240 on levy payments, he adds.

MDC income rose to £4.95m in 1998/99, over £1m more than the previous year after the farmer-funded levy was increased to 0.04p/litre of milk.

Grant and project expenditure amounted to almost £4.9m, up 9%. However, a reduction in administration costs to £1.19m and a write back of £1.14m tax provision, following the DTIs agreement that the MDC was an eligible research organisation, left the council with a surplus of just over £79,200. Retained surplus amounted to £1.46m.

A total of 125 contracted research projects were funded. This included £800,000 to the National Dairy Council to promote the nutritional importance of milk, and £300,000 to the Animal Data Centre to support improvement of genetic merit in the nations dairy herd.

Greater emphasis will be put on farmer-focused research, to help producers cut costs and improve profitability. The MDC has established eight focus centres across the UK to help disseminate information.

This reflects ongoing concern over the crisis in the industry, reflected in this months milk price table. Several companies paid less for their milk compared with December.

Nestlé Scotlands price fell 1p/litre, Bodfari by 0.76p/litre, and Milk Marques standard litre fell by 0.5p/litre. Several other companies towards the top of the table posted smaller falls. &#42