Farmer Focus: Milk pricing needs to change

After a great spell of dry weather, it all broke down this weekend. As I write, the nights are drawing in and the rain that falls is slow to evaporate.

We are halfway through drilling winter wheat and still zero grazing two acres a day for the low yielders. It will take until the end of November to finish the 2015 silage crop. 

Forage quantity will not be an issue until at least 2018, hence we are sowing more wheat than normal. This should help control feed costs, with current exchange rates making imported feed expensive.

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This winter our ingredients will be soda wheat, waste bread, rapemeal, soya hulls and whey permeate with small amounts of soya and urea.

Currently we are on 4% fat and 3.45% protein, but fertility has slipped, with days in milk (DIM) creeping about 200 days. 

I hope to rectify this quickly by voluntary culls with some bought-in heifers to take their place. This should correct my autumn milk sales, so I don’t have too many B-litres next spring on my Arla contract.

The announcement from the Scottish government that 80% of direct payments will be in the bank by mid-November will give short relief until, hopefully, the milk price rise to 25p+.

Well done to Yew Tree Dairy for bringing a new dimension to the UK dairy industry with a very transparent payment policy. It is great to see a new milk buyer coming into my area.

This can only be a good thing as we painfully look at the other processors and co-ops dragging their heels to return a sustainable price.

At our last NFUS milk meeting it was discussed how a lot of dairy product have been oversold forward at a bad price and spot milk has been bought to make up these orders.

This meant we sold this milk cheap and now, because processors have to buy spot, they are holding our price back to pay for their mistakes. This needs to change.


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