Farmers cut 23 million litres from production in April

Monday, 11 May 2020

By Chris Gooderham

GB daily milk deliveries for the week ending 2 May averaged 36.84 million litres per day, up 0.4% on the previous week. There has been a re-weighting of the overall volumes now that we have passed the end of April, and this has lifted weekly numbers slightly. Despite that adjustment, milk production has continued its recent trend of rising very slowly through April. Production is now put at 1.6% below the forecast and 2.0% below last year. This gives an early April estimate for GB at 1,094m litres.

The 7-day rolling average has remained relatively flat at 36.84m litres per day for the last 6 days (27 April to 2 May), giving an early indication that we may have reached peak for the year. If this is the case, it will be the pull back by some farmers that has helped keep milk volumes down.

Milk production from those who have been asked to curb volumes by their milk buyers, continues to have an impact. Without that curbing of production, we estimate* April volumes would have been nearly 23 million litres higher at 1,117m litres. That would have put production at 17 million litres above our March forecast – thanks to a significant improvement in weather and ground conditions over the last few weeks.

If volumes had reached 1,117m litres it would have put considerably more strain on the processing capability of the country and likely would have led to significantly higher volumes of milk needing disposal on farm. Thanks to the reaction of those farmers who have cut back on volumes, the disposal of milk has been kept relatively in-check so far. Whether we continue to have sufficient capacity over the remainder of the spring will now be determined by retail sales continuing to remain high and processors continuing to run at, or near, capacity without breakdown or serious levels of staff absenteeism.

While the actions of some farmers have given the industry some breathing space, there remains concern over the financial impact on them as a result of the cut-back.

* Based on milk production levels from those who were not asked to curb volumes.

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Chris Gooderham

Science and Environment Director

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