Further consolidation ahead in dairy sector

EVEN though there are now little more than 1,000 dairy farmers in Scotland, the prediction is for a further decline in that number as part of a UK-wide continued reduction in milk producers.

However, those who are left are likely to expand their herds, meaning overall milk production is set to increase.

These figures emerged this week from DairyCo, the milk industry's section of the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board. The survey asked more than 1,000 UK dairy farmers about their plans for the future. Some 35 per cent indicated they were going to increase production – almost double the figure from a similar survey the previous year.

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On the other hand, some 9 per cent of those interviewed reckoned they would leave the industry in the next two years. This would equate to 1,174 fewer dairy farmers in the UK by 2012. Not surprisingly, most of those were smaller-scale producers.

Ken Boyns, DairyCo sector director, warned that both the price and the strengthening of the supply chain had to continue if the survey's predictions were to become reality, and farmer confidence is to grow.

• A plan to build the UK's largest dairy farm has been withdrawn.

Under Nocton Dairies' proposals, 8,100 cows were to produce up to 250,000 litres of milk a day at Nocton Heath, Lincolnshire.

The farm was described by opponents as "the equivalent of battery chicken farms for cows".

The firm said it aims to submit a new planning application soon.

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