Finally, the weather has warmed a little, the biting wind seems to have died down and we have a beautiful foal. First cut silage is now safely home and second cut will be under way shortly. Hopefully we will then have a few weeks’ breathing space before harvest begins in earnest.
The rain in May was a welcome end to the drought that began in April. The crops have recovered well, and fingers crossed they will yield as well. Prices are holding well at the moment. No s traw and a late turnout forced farmers to look at other methods of bedding their cattle; last month I visited a farm that was using paper waste as a form of bedding with a light dusting of straw on the top. The system seemed to be working well, although I’m not sure I would be brave enough to try it. During lockdown the sale of puppies went into orbit. Labrador puppies were changing hands for between £3,000 and £5,000 and some breeds of dog during lockdown rose 89% in value. With the increase in puppy prices, dogs have become a major target for thefts in the UK. Farmers have been asked to remain vigilant as working dogs appear to be high on the list of targets.
With this in mind the Government has launched a new taskforce to investigate and gather evidence to help understand the factors that have contributed to the rise in thefts. The intention is to learn lessons from successes in tackling other types of theft eg, mobile phones. They would also like to clamp down on these illegal markets. It doesn’t appear to be just the price of puppies that has gone through the roof; the price of beef and lamb is at an all-time high. Long may it continue, although with the Government in talks to finalise meat imports from other countries only time will tell.
Having been through the archives recently, we found our milk statements dating back to the 1990s and decided to do a price comparison. In May 1996 our milk price was 0.02ppl different to the price we received in May 2021. We then started asking questions with regard to the additional expenditure and standards expected of us in today’s climate. Raw materials, wages and machinery have all increased and the list goes on. In fact, everything has doubled, trebled and in some cases quadrupled, apart from the milk price, which has stood still in these testing times.
In 1996 we had no farm assurance; passports were a relatively new phenomenon. Red tractor hadn’t been invented; climate check data was a long way off. We continually jump through paperwork hoops for absolutely no return.
The milk price increase in May was greeted by the press as an amazing achievement. In reality we are running on the same prices that we received 25 years ago. So, for all the “back slapping praise” in the hierarchy that went on at HQ, the reality is that the milk price needs to be a lot higher since the cost of production is more than it was 25 years ago. Every year the dairy industry sees fewer and fewer dairy farms in this country. Eventually milk could be classed as a luxury item and not an everyday commodity in the fridge. Where does it all end? We are slightly bemused by it all.