Producer numbers down 4.7% on last year

Thursday, 22 October 2020

By Chris Gooderham

Our most recent survey of major milk buyers suggests that in October there were an estimated 8,310 dairy producers in GB. This is a reduction of 410 producers (4.7%) compared with the survey we undertook this time last year.

The latest numbers suggests that the average volume per farm in GB has now risen above 1.5 million litres per year.

Why do we carry out the survey?

Getting a true picture of the number of dairy producers in the country is often difficult due to the different reporting methods used.

  • The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is often used to track producer numbers across England and Wales, based on the number of farmers registered to produce milk. However, the FSA database will be updated quickly when a new farmer starts up production, but not necessarily when a farmer exits. Deregistering is voluntary, and therefore unlikely to be top of the “to do” list for a farmer leaving the industry. The FSA will often only capture this cessation when a regular check is carried out. These checks occur on a 10-year basis (for those registered with Red Tractor) or a 2-year basis otherwise. This means FSA numbers will often over-state the number of dairy farmers in the country.
  • Defra carry out a survey on the number of dairy holdings. This includes all farms with a dairy cow over 2 years old with offspring. The latest data, for 2018, showed there were 19,272 dairy holdings in the UK. This is a much larger number than our estimate, even after taking into consideration the difference between UK and GB. However, nearly 33% of these holdings had fewer than 10 cows, meaning they are unlikely to be commercial dairy farms.

Notes

AHDB’s estimate represents the number of producers actively contributing to GB milk production. It is based on the number of active producers and temporary inactive producers from the milk buyers that contribute to the Daily Milk Deliveries survey. This covers approximately 76% of volumes in GB, and so the estimate has been adjusted accordingly. A figure based on levy data has been used to account for direct suppliers.

Chris Gooderham

Head of Market Specialists - Dairy & Livestock

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