14 April 1995

SETTLE DOWN, DO BETTER

After a milk production year filled with drama – a new marketing environment, wild price rises for quota, and the biggest ever production overshoot – many producers will be only too pleased to settle down to their proper job. It is to be hoped that they get a better opportunity to do so this year.

Last year was full of talk. Producing for the market; establishing a working relationship with buyers whose smiles were sometimes hard to distinguish from snarls; power politics being played out over the all-important doorstep delivery system; and manipulation of land, cows and quota as tradeable assets.

All this may be stimulating and challenging to a limited few. But to most producers it is a distraction from their real purpose and ambition, which is simply to produce the maximum high-quality milk at a cost which leaves a satisfactory income to reward their work and allow them to reinvest for the future.

To be sure, the UK milk production scene has changed for the good. But has it changed for the better? Whatever the answer, those who succeed will be characterised by their capacity to excel in breeding, feeding and managing their cows better than the rest.

There is no room for complacency. Many other competing dairy industries in the new, freed-up international market-place are just as switched on technically as we are ourselves. We must do still better.

Without that, all the rest remains so much talk.