Farmer Focus: We need stability in milk

A day is a long time in politics, and as I begin to put my thoughts together on what to write, low and behold a general election has been called. I sure didn’t see that coming.

This will be an interesting exercise, with two agendas north and south of the border. If any Scottish National Party (SNP) seats are lost on this side it will maybe give a “no” signal to the independent referendum number two. That’s the Scottish side of it.

On the south side it’s an opportunity for ‘remoaners’ to have their say on whether Brexit will be hard or soft.  

Mastitis lesson learnt

On farm spring work has been busy with spring wheat being sown for whole crop. The last of the silage ground is being rolled as we hope to start silage in early May to hopefully manage four cuts, aiming for higher quality forage.

See more: Read more from our Livestock Farmer Focus writers

I decided to order 300 cubicle mattresses. This was after our vet advised us to stop green bedding for two months to get mastitis under control.

This has definitely made a big difference. Sawdust has replaced it so the deep beds are too expensive to maintain without a mattress.

My opinion is that green bedding needs drying to at least 50% dry matter and not 35%. Higher dry matters eradicate far more bugs – this has been a very expensive learning curve.

Disappointing milk price drop

Milk price is still very much on the agenda and as an Arla producer I was disappointed at the 0.42p/l drop but I’m more concerned that there are more decreases still to come.

Stability is badly needed for producers to regain their confidence in milk – a fantastic product we provide daily.

European milk volumes are increasing, especially in Germany, which is not helping our ever-growing intervention powder mountain of more than 350,000 tonnes, which makes our buyers very relaxed. Ultimately, no quick turnaround is in sight.

At time of writing I am heading to London with the NFUS President to meet Andrea Leadsom and George Eustice regarding what assurances are being offered on a fair hearing on Brexit negotiations. Hopefully, this will be incident-free after our last attempt.

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