UK's biggest spring dairy event returns to Carlisle

The tenth UK Dairy Expo took place in Carlisle over the weekend Credit: ITV Border

One of the biggest events in the dairy farming calendar returned to Cumbria over the weekend.

The UK Dairy Expo was back in Carlisle on Saturday for the first time since 2020. Thousands of visitors were in attendance from across the country and beyond.

It is a platform for dairy breeders to showcase their livestock in a range of competition categories.

The founder of the event, taking place for the tenth time, is Glyn Lucas. Like many traders and breeders, he was delighted to be back.

He said: "I just can't believe it's been two years since we've had this event. It means a lot. You can feel the atmosphere when you walk around, there's a lot of people who haven't seen each other since 2020. This industry is all about community and networking."

The Dairy Expo has become the UK's leading spring event of its kind. The cattle here represent some of the world's finest dairy genetics and milking technology.

However, these are not the best of times for the dairy industry.

Breeders showcased their cattle in a range of competition categories Credit: ITV Border

The war in Ukraine is driving up costs, as well as leading to fertiliser shortages for farmers like Amy Armstrong, who is from near Silloth in Cumbria.

She said: "Everything is increasing which is having a knock-on effect. The milk price is ok at the moment but it's probably still not enough income for the expenditure which makes things really difficult.

"You try and cut your costs down but at the end of the day you need your grass to grow so you need your fertiliser. You want your cows to milk so you need the feed and if you can't purchase that then it puts you in a really hard place."

As well as farmers, agricultural businesses are also feeling the squeeze. They supply feed and fertiliser and are finding it very difficult to avoid passing on cost increases to farmers.

Mark Holliday from Cumbrian agricultural firm Carr's Billington says the current situation shows how unpredictable the industry can be.

He said: "You never know what's around the corner in British agriculture. We've had Brexit, we've had Covid and now we've got Ukraine. There's always a different combination of issues that we've got to work our way through.

"But we've aways managed to do that and British agriculture has still gone from strength to strength.

"I'm sure we can get through this crisis as we've got through all the others."

It is an optimistic message for now, but with no sign of the conflict in easter Europe ending, the dairy and wider agricultural industry are bracing themselves for prices to stay high.