As the dairy industry continues to face unprecedented challenges, with many farmers being paid less than the price of production, the plight of the small family dairy herd is under threat.
The Prince’s Dairy Initiative, now in its 4th year, aims to improve the long-term sustainability of the British dairy sector by offering free practical workshops that cover financial management, herd heath, nutrition and soil management.
The Prince’s Dairy Initiative is looking for traditional family dairy farms in six new regions to join the effective programme offering free support and business advice to those running small to medium sized dairy herds.
The Prince’s Dairy Initiative is inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales and his long-held concern about the future sustainability of UK dairy farming. It is delivered in partnership with the sector body AHDB Dairy and charity The Prince’s Countryside Fund with the support of major UK dairy processors, cooperatives, supply and feed companies.
In each area up to 20 dairy farmers, who want to increase the viability and efficiency of their business, are being sought. Participation is free and eligible farmers should have a dairy herd of fewer than 200 cows, supply their milk on a standard contract and not already be active participants in discussion groups and workshops.
Mike Stevens, Müller Wiseman Dairies and Chairman of The Prince’s Dairy Initiative said: “This is an important time for us to support traditional family dairy farmers. With a wider range of farm gate prices than I have ever seen in my career, The Prince’s Dairy Initiative is helping those in most need to improve their overall efficiency as the industry becomes even more challenging. Our experience to-date proves that bringing local, like-minded farmers together delivers real benefit. The problem is that too often the farmers who could benefit the most from this initiative are too remote or too busy to seek support. We’re trying to spread the word and reach these farmers.”
Since 2012, over 200 dairy farms have participated in this programme of business-led workshops designed to help secure the future of their businesses. All of the businesses are benchmarked and attend workshops delivered locally by experts in the dairy sector and cover topics such as herd health, soil, nutrition and financial management. Most of the farmers who have taken part so far have improved the way they do things on their own farms helping the long-term viability of their businesses.
“I did enjoy comparing farms and seeing where I’m going wrong! We don’t measure everything properly and it showed us areas to tighten up on. I’m concentrating on feed costs. I’m looking forward to the “Managing your Bank Manager” meeting. It’s something we tend to skip through. We tend to accept what they say and rely on their advice more than we should do.” Andrew Whitehurst, Staffordshire group.
“You never stop learning. It is good to get off your own farm meeting different farmers and both workshops have delivered thus far.” Richard Weatherald, Yorkshire Dales group.
“This is my first time as a member of a discussion group. We milk around 130 cows and have a couple of hundred sheep. I hope my business can progress and benefit from picking up hints and tips from all the farmers in the group sharing ideas.” Martin Jones, Welshpool Group.