I heard an interview on Radio 4’s Farming Today programme last week, in which a global investment expert stated that small dairy farms have no future in theUK.
Detlef Scon from Aquila Capital Green Assets explained “If you want to preserve a structure in a small, family farm-type structure in the UK, and there’s good reasons for wanting to do that, then it requires public support. Assuming public support is on its way out then by the same token, your 50 to 100 cow family farm is on its way out.”
Mr Schon went on to explain that investing in New Zealand dairy farms would be a far more attractive prospect, because milk production costs are significantly lower than those on UK farms – largely due to the ability to graze cows all year round.
So are small UK dairy farms really not worth investing in?
Well, do you think of your weekly shop as an investment? Probably not in the way Aquila Capital do. But, when a few pence could help safeguard the future of your milk supply, you might consider this a worthwhile investment. Investing in something is not always about speculating on where you can grow your money. Paying a few pence extra for a pint of milk might not secure you a big cash payout in years to come. But, it will help to ensure that the milk and dairy products you buy are of a high quality and come from farms where cows are allowed the freedom to graze (yes Mr Schon, we too are making as much use of grazed grass as we can to keep costs down).
I don’t believe public support is “on the way out” as Mr Schon asserts. I think that a growing understanding of how milk is produced on UK farms and the tangible values of milk from pasture-based herds, will grow support for our farms. Our costs may not be as low as those of New Zealand producers, but we have the second lowest costs in Europe and we are continually striving to become more efficient.
Free Range Dairy is asking UK consumers for investment – investment in their time, to learn more about what we do. Please give generously!