Farmer Focus: Another Muller milk drop

What a difference a month makes! The sun is out, the ground is drying and today I have been spreading fertiliser a week earlier than last year.

My wife and I recently completed an Iagsa (The institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administration) farm financial training course, learning about monthly accounting and VAT.

It was excellent and I would highly recommend it. I think my wife was a little disappointed I was the only male attendee and bookwork is still seen as a ‘woman’s job’.

Having my mum as the farmer in the family we certainly don’t have these stereotypes at Lower Wood or I’d be in for an ear-bashing.

See also: Milk margins squeezed by high feed rate and cost

Back on the farm the cows continue to perform well, with milk hovering around 32.5-33 litres and fertility proving strong as well. So, all in all we should be sitting back and appreciating the fruits of our labour.

Well, that is apart from the elephant in the room – another milk price drop from Muller for March. This has been compounded further by the fact that Arla has held its price, creating a gap.

This all comes in a winter where I would say our costs are at least 2p/litre ahead of the previous year.

I do not want my column to be a farming winge-athon, but it is frustrating. We have worked tirelessly at Lower Wood to make improvements and in doing so have taken risks. 

I have always thought that good business should be built around strong relationships and we have set about attempting to build and consolidate these, with one major area of focus being our milk buyer.

I have been fortunate enough to be a part of their Muller Next Generation benchmarking group and I have well and truly immersed myself in the Muller brand.

I understand that as primary producers we are unfortunately price-takers. However, if we are looking to build a sustainable future for both processor and supplier we must work together to ensure a sustainable return to all parties.

Otherwise, how can we afford to invest and improve the product we take great pride in producing?

Read more about Shropshire farmer Henry Wilson