Members of the veterinary group VetPartners are calling for greater government support for UK dairy farmers in the form of a minimum farmgate milk price.

VetPartners said it looks after a number of the UK’s dairy herds and wants to secure a fair deal for the primary producers of milk, other dairy products and meat.

Members have written to MPs from a letter drafted by the clinical director at Westpoint Farm Vets in Ashford, Jack Balkham, calling for the government to “address the volatility of the milk market at a time when farmers are facing increased labour costs”.

The average farmgate price for milk slipped to 37.6p/L in May, according to government figures – a near 8% decrease on the same month a year earlier.

The group said that this has led to many farmers leaving the sector, as they also face increased fuel, equipment, energy and rent costs.

Vetpartners farm director, Ian Cure, said: “This industry volatility makes it incredibly difficult for farmers to invest in their rural businesses and plan for the future.

“The five-year, rolling average farmgate price for milk as of May 2023 was 33.65p/L, and this has changed very little over the last six years.

“It is well documented that in recent times, costs across all sectors have increased with labour costs, fuel, equipment, rents and rates at an all-time high.”

UK dairy farming

Cure said current dairy production costs are unsustainable for farmers and that something “must be done” to support them.

“Whilst the volatility of the milk market makes future business planning extremely difficult, the recent fall in price means that many are struggling to make ends meet, with the knock-on effect of damaging rural economies,” he said.

VetPartners farm director, Ian Cure

“Farmers that we work with have always and will always prioritise the health and welfare of their cows, and strive to produce fantastic local food for our country.

“We understand the government’s position in trying to reduce inflation, this must not be at the expense of farmers.”

Cure said many farmers have already left the sector for economic reasons and more must be done to prevent this and prioritise food security.

“We implore the government to support the implementation of a minimum farmgate price to ensure a fair deal for British farmers.

“We understand that this will increase costs, but they need not be met from the already stretched government funds.

“Processors and supermarkets should burden their fair share of the costs. It cannot be right that critical primary producers always bear the brunt of market fluctuations,” he said.