Farmer Focus: We must cut costs or diversify

Rain has come at last to the West Galdenoch. In fact we have enjoyed a whole weekend of ‘rain’.

This will make a world of difference to the two-thirds of my still-growing second cut and will bulk up the other third, which is later first cut.

Hopefully we can get it in the pit soon before the contractor gets overwhelmed with work.

See more: Read more from our Livestock Farmer Focus writers

Unnecessary price cuts

Looking at the present milk industry, enthusiasm has been dampened by recent price cuts. Yet as farmers we feel the last cut was unnecessary as future projections are positive and auction remains steady as spot milk firms up.

Dry conditions could be helping but butter is in big demand so I feel we will be in a better place come September.

One problem is that it holds back much-needed investment, whether in repairs or upgrading machinery.

Dodgy AD companies

I find it very frustrating. No cash is available for any other diversification opportunities such as anaerobic digestion (AD).

I have looked into AD for our farm over the last five years and every firm that has nearly signed on a deal disappears into the abyss.

Some of these firms, when you check them out at Companies House, have a fur coat and no knickers – it looks the part, but there’s nothing behind them.

We are now looking into a 44kW plant. We can’t get export, which isn’t an issue as we average nearly 60kWh on farm so it seems a no brainer.

We could use heat for a drying floor to dry either green bedding or maybe some grain or grass. All I know is our business must cut costs or develop alternative income.

On the union front, it’s going to get very businesslike as soon as election passes on 8 June. It’s full steam ahead on Brexit, but even more exciting is the Royal Highland Show, which I always look forward to.

This year on the NFU Scotland stand we will be promoting modern apprenticeships/careers in agriculture, and New Generation members and farms. Please pop round for a chat and a coffee if you’re attending.

Gary Mitchell milks 800 cows near Stranraer, with heifers reared on a local farm. Gary zero grazes 80ha of the 195ha he owns. He is vice-chairman for NFU Scotland.