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Milk production forecast to fall as input costs rise

SCENARIOS: The AHDB levy board is examining how farmers might respond to changes.

The rising price and availability of key inputs could result in milk production in Great Britain falling by more than half a billion litres (5.3%) in the 2022-23 season, new analysis by the AHDB  has concluded.

The levy board has produced five scenarios which reflect how changes might impact farming enterprises and could result in production falling between 0.8% and as much as 5.3%.

AHDB lead dairy analyst Patty Clayton said: “Access to key agricultural inputs and feed ingredients have been severely affected by the war in Ukraine, which is forcing decisions to limit production.

“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.”

A baseline forecast was issued by AHDB in March, based on discussions from the Milk Forecasting Forum, which set production for 2022/23 at 12,250 million litres, an 0.8% fall on the previous season.

Dairy farmers are tackling the challenges  in different ways.

That forecast has now been updated to reflect a range of scenarios from mild to very high impact based on changes to feed, cull cow and farmgate prices as well as retention rates.

“Reviewing input costs, feed strategies and making the most of home-grown forage can all help,” said Mrs Clayton.

“Farmers could also use the cost benefit calculator on our website to understand whether it makes sense to apply fertiliser to grassland.”

Dairy farmers are  tackling the challenges in different ways, and earlier this month the dairy charity RABDF’s  managing director said innovation hubs at the Dairy-Tech event had been packed.

“Dairy is facing real struggles with rising input costs, labour issues and increasing pressure to reduce emissions,” he said.

Rising feed costs are among the challenges facing the dairy sector.

“There was a definite requirement by visitors to better understand the market situation and ways in which they can manage the pressures.”

The levy board has reminded producers who have signed up to take part in their Shape the Future exercise that have until midday on May 9 to have their say on which challenges AHDB should focus on and the services they should deliver.

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