The Welsh branch of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU Cymru) has said that dairy farmers will face a hard winter, and called on the Welsh government and consumers to back Welsh farming.

Speaking at the Welsh Dairy Show today (Tuesday, October 24), the union said dairy farmers face an uncertain future due to challenging market conditions, which have seen milk prices decline on average by 30% since the turn of the year.

NFU Cymru said, while input costs have fallen from their spike, they still remain historically high and many dairy farmers across the country are receiving a price for their milk that is below the cost of production.

“Whilst there is a glimmer of positivity in the global milk market, it will take a long time for this sentiment to arrive at the farm gate, meaning dairy farmers are facing a hard winter,” the union said.

NFU Cymru president Aled Jones said Welsh dairy farmers are facing a perfect storm.

He added, “the industry seems to run on fuel called ‘hope it gets better’ and the tank is on red. This is not the way to run an industry”.

“It appears that other parts of the supply chain are passing on their losses to the primary producers. It is farmers who are the ones unfairly shouldering the risks that come with producing this natural, healthy and sustainable product.”

Volatile markets

Jones said farming is a long-term business, but that the ‘boom and bust’ nature of volatile markets mean dairy farmers across Wales do not have the confidence to make the everyday decisions needed to drive business forward.

“This uncertainty also has a ripple effect on the allied industries, and it affects the prosperity and social fabric of our rural communities”, he said.

“We encourage consumers to back our dairy farmers in Wales by looking for the Welsh flag when they are shopping.”

The union’s dairy board chair, Jonathan Wilkinson, said Welsh dairy farmers are “well placed to supply consumers around the world with climate friendly milk.

“By optimising the use of genetics, improving nutrition and enhancing animal health, dairy farmers in Wales are striving for more efficient cows, all of which means our milk has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world,” he said.

“However, the uncertainty and lack of confidence our sector faces in the here and now is testing farm resilience and places all of this at risk.

“The Welsh Rural Affairs Minister has committed that she wants future agricultural policy in Wales to work for all farmers and NFU Cymru is adamant that this must include dairy farmers.

“I urge the minister to work with NFU Cymru and to use the forthcoming consultation, to listen to the Welsh dairy industry to safeguard the continued production of quality, nutritious and climate friendly milk in Wales.”