Hanging on at 37 – but would quit if he were 57

26 February 1999

Hanging on at 37 – but would quit if he were 57

MORE in hope than anticipation, Ayrshire dairy farmer Willie Campbell is determined to stay in the business. But he says that if he was 57 instead of 37 he would get out now.

"Im in farming for the long-term but if I was 20 years older and had no successor I would quit, and that is what a lot of people are doing. Its difficult to get figures from the Intervention Board but we know that a lot of milk quota is moving out of Scotland," he says.

In the past year, he has dispensed with a student worker, put on an extra 50 ewes, and finished an extra batch of 50 cattle bought as stores in the autumn. But no extra quota has been leased or bought at Low Holehouse.

"Instead we went for extra sheep and cattle. We are driving harder to stand still and to try and weather the storm," he says.

The day starts at 4.45am for Willie and his wife. His father helps out with the milking and that is the labour force tending 85 milking cows, 15 multi-suckling cows, 250 ewes lambing from December to May, and finishing cattle on the 117ha (290 acres). Mr Campbell also finds time for NFU affairs and has just been elected the first chairman of the Ayrshire Regional Board.

His milk income has dropped £9000 on the year and beef cattle have given a better return than dairy cows

The big worry at the moment is feed stocks. "We had the worst summer on record. Cows have been housed since the end of July. We have been feeding silage all year and stocks are running low.

"February 1998 was the last decent month we had. A lot of damage has been done to pastures and I think that will show up in the silage crops this year."

Grass is the key to any profit from our farm and we are not optimistic about the year ahead."

See more