One dairy farmer a week leaving industry, survey reveals

Dairy farmers are exiting the industry at the rate of one a week, according to AHDB data.

The levy board recently conducted a survey of major milk buyers, which revealed there is an estimated 8,820 dairy producers in Great Britain, down by 30-35 compared with February.

AHDB began undertaking its own analysis of producer numbers this year after data held by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was called into question.

See also: Guide to using Johne’s tests to cull in dairy herds

FSA data is based on the number of farmers registered to produce milk, but deregistering is voluntary.

The number of dairy cattle in England has also fallen slightly, suggesting herd consolidation may be plateauing.

Defra’s 2019 June return statistics showed a 1.1% fall in dairy cattle more than two years old on the previous year, bringing the national herd down to 1.13 million head.

Official farm business income data from Defra forecasts that the average dairy farm businesses in England saw income fall by a fifth in the 2018-19 year after an increase in feed costs.

Input costs have since fallen, but milk prices have also come down for some producers.

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