British milk production is likely to plummet this year, with a drop of up to 5.3% – the equivalent of 605 million litres – warns the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
The farming body said that the uncertainty surrounding availability and prices made forecasting milk production for the upcoming season an “even trickier task than normal”.
While considering the key agricultural inputs and feed ingredients severely impacted by the Ukraine war, the AHDB looked at how milk production may be impacted under five different alternative scenarios for the 2022/23 season.
The results revealed that milk production is likely to fall by between 0.8% and 5.3%, depending on what happens to feed prices, availability and milk prices.
Last month’s baseline forecast set production for the coming year at 0.8% down on the previous season. This has now been updated to reflect the latest analysis, which takes a range of additional price changes into account.
“Access to key agricultural inputs and feed ingredients have been severely affected by the war in Ukraine, which is forcing decisions to limit production,” said Patty Clayton, AHDB’s dairy analyst.
“The current uncertainty makes forecasting milk production for the upcoming season an even trickier task than normal, but we know it’s going to be a tough year for farmers.”
Michael Oakes, NFU dairy board chair, told The Grocer: “Rapid inflation of input costs, with fertiliser prices rising four-fold, animal feed rising by 70% and fuel costs continuing to soar mean, for most dairy farmers, the cost of production is much higher than the price they are currently receiving for their milk.”
He added the UK’s shoppers “hugely value the high-quality, sustainable dairy products farmers produce.
“Farmers are not responsible for setting the price of milk for the public, so, we’re asking for fairness across the whole supply chain to manage these inflationary pressures and ensure farmers are being supported through these challenging times.”