Number of GB dairy farmers falls over 5%, figures show

Despite the fall in producer numbers, April milk production reached an estimated 1,094m litres – the second highest for 17 years
Despite the fall in producer numbers, April milk production reached an estimated 1,094m litres – the second highest for 17 years

The number of dairy producers in Britain has fallen by 470 compared to last year, figures by AHDB show, but milk volumes still remain high.

The most recent survey of major milk buyers suggests that in April 2020 there were an estimated 8,380 dairy producers in Britain.

This is a reduction of 470 producers - or 5.3% - compared with the survey the levy board completed in February last year.

However, despite the drop in dairy producers, overall milk volumes remained high - the second highest level for 17 years.



Chris Gooderham, AHDB's head of market specialists for dairy, said the figures suggested that the average farm was now producing around 4,100 litres per day, or 1.5m per year.

"Poor weather conditions earlier in the year caused challenges to some for spring turnout," he explained.



Farmers are also estimated to have reduced volumes by 23 million litres in April to ease the pressure on processing capacity.

(Photo: AHDB)
(Photo: AHDB)

"Despite both these challenges, April milk production reached an estimated 1,094m litres – the second highest for 17 years," Mr Gooderham said, adding that only April 2019 exceeded this level.

Overall the evidence showed that, while there were fewer dairy farms in the country, through efficiency gains production levels remained high, he explained.

AHDB’s estimate represents the number of producers actively contributing to British 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 77% 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.

It comes as the AHDB also estimated that the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the British dairy sector cost £28m during April and May.