18 August 2000
More money in water than milk
By Nigel Burnham and Johann Tasker
A FAMILY forced out of dairying by the farming crisis is to start selling water because it is more profitable than selling milk.
Richard Blomfield and his son Andrew are exploiting two natural springs on their land at Springhill Farm, Fylingdales, near Whitby, Yorkshire.
They plan to pump the first water next week and are turning a disused cattle shed into a storage plant ready for distribution.
The family decided to get out of dairying last Christmas. Mr Blomfield, who had a back problem, was told by his doctor not to have anything more to do with farming.
There were too many cows for Andrew to look after alone and low milk prices meant the family could not afford to employ anyone from off the farm to help out.
Mr Blomfield declined to reveal how much money he would make from the new venture.
But he said: It is fair to say that we will be selling water for more than we sold our milk but it is impossible to know what price we will actually get.
We are not allowed to sell it retail from the farm at the moment but in the shops it will be selling for 30-50p for a 500ml bottle.
Farmers are paid about 16p/litre for milk which sells in the supermarkets for about 40p. The Blomfields 200-cow herd produced about 1.2m litres of milk a year.
Their extraction licence, approved by the North Yorks Moors National Park authority last month, entitles them to abstract about 4.5m litres of spring water a year.
If things go well, the father and son team hope to bottle the water on-site at the end of the second year and create up to 10 jobs.
Mr Blomfield said: It has involved a lot of hard work and detailed negotiations and I am looking forward to trying to make a success of it.
Val Dilcock, the national parks chief planning officer, said: We want to encourage appropriate farm diversification wherever possible to help local farmers.
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- Water search taps in to pure delight, FWi, 13 March 2000