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NFU: 8 thousand fewer dairy farms than a decade ago

Dairy cows at a farm in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire Credit: Calendar News

The NFU says there were 19,000 dairy farms in England and Wales a decade ago. There are now 10,670 producers. 1,232 of those are based in the Midlands. The farming union is calling for urgent action to be taken over the cost of milk, to ensure farmers are paid more and can survive in the future.

Lincolnshire farmer needs 2p a litre more for milk to 'break even'

Michael Davenport, a dairy farmer based in Market Rasen, says he needs to be paid two pence a litre more for his milk 'to break even', or four pence a litre more to make a profit. Michael is one of many farmers who has diversified and now produces cheese at his farm to survive.

"There are four supermarkets who are paying cost of production plus. The others are continuing to just tell the milk processors what they're paying, and that's not acceptable. If they want their liquid milk they ought to be paying a fair price. The feed I have to buy in has gone up by thirty pounds a tonne."

– Michael Davenport - Lincolnshire Dairy Farmer

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NFU: "Farmers still not paid enough for their milk"

Michael Davenport is a Dairy Farmer in Lincolnshire Credit: Calendar News

The NFU says dairy farmers are still not being paid enough money for their milk. The union says the high cost of feed for cows is causing major problems in the industry at the moment, combined with the negative effects of the bad weather. There are now 8330 fewer dairy farms than 10 years ago.

High running costs and low supermarket prices put dairy farmers under pressure

The NFU says dairy farmers still aren't being paid enough money for their milk, despite protests last year. The high cost of feed and shortage of straw are also thought to be having a knock on effect on farmers, as well as varying supermarket prices.

One farmer has told Calendar that only the really big farms and small family ones are making any money, and that many are desperately trying to cut costs.

Warning over rural crime

There is a warning for farmers and rural landowners to review their security arrangements in a bid to reduce thefts of equipment and vehicles from farms in the region.

At this time of year, with its short days and long nights, there is always an increase in countryside crime. With the added catalysts of a fragile economy and belt-tightening measures for many families this year, we are already starting to see a swell of rural criminal offences such as theft and fly-tipping.

Crime in rural areas takes many forms and is made easier for the perpetrator by the relative isolation of homes and businesses, a maze of county lanes unmonitored by CCTV, lack of street lighting, miles of legal public access close to properties and low visible police presence.

– Dorothy Fairburn, CLA North Regional Director

The CLA is advising farmers and landowners to take simple steps to protect themselves and their property such as not leaving tools lying around, ensuring keys are removed from vehicles and that sheds and other outbuildings are properly secured.

Rural residents off the mains gas supply grid, who rely on heating oil are also being urged to protect their supplies by install locks on tank filler/vent caps and checking tank levels on a regular basis to ensure fuel is not being siphoned off.

We are urging our members to have a look around their premises with a thief's eye, to identify vulnerable spots and areas in permanent darkness. Anyone who needs further help should contact the crime prevention officer at their local police station or talk to a specialist security company. And last but by no means least - if you see a crime, report it.

– Dorothy Fairburn, CLA North Regional Director

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Wheat harvest down following summer of heavy rain

This year's wheat harvest has been significantly reduced following a summer of persistent and at times torrential rain, sparking fears of food price rises. A survey of arable farmers by the National Farmers Union has found yields of wheat down 14.1% on the five-year average.

The organisation's annual harvest survey found that average yields for wheat had dropped from 7.8 to 6.7 tonnes per hectare. Not all crops have suffered the same with increased yields of Winter Barley and Oilseed Rape, though there was a fall in Spring Barley.

We have seen a relatively low wheat yield this year, below seven tonnes per hectare. This is something not seen in the UK since the late 1980s. The abnormally high rainfall across the UK since early summer this year has depressed wheat yield. The poor UK harvest compounds a series of challenging weather events for farmers around the world, most notably drought in North America. The resulting tight supplies of many feed grains have driven up the prices of agricultural commodities around the world. These UK harvest results will do little to alleviate the global dynamics of commodity prices.

– Guy Gagan, National Farmers Union
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