MILK PRICE cuts have prompted more farmers than expected to quit over the past two years, including those running the larger, more profitable herds, according to a DEFRA-funded study.
The report, published in the same week as dairy producers stage a series of price protests, found 45 of 363 herds surveyed back in April 2003 had since ceased milk production.
Of the 45, eight of the herds had between 100 and 149 cows and five of the herds had more than 150 cows.
The report suggested that the scale of the exodus was sufficient so that by 2007/08 it is likely the UK will fall 1bn litres below quota.
“This report reinforces our view that milk price cuts and general volatility have seriously eroded the confidence of all producers, threatening the future viability of domestic milk supply,” said NFU dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones.
“If a sustainable future is to be achieved for the dairy industry a profitable supply base is vital.
“That simply will not happen if short-sighted pricing decisions from those further up the dairy chain continue to drive even the largest, most efficient herds from production, as evidenced by this report.”