October 22, 2003



Heightening Problem of Dairy Farm Decline in Wales


A sixth of Welsh dairy farms have disappeared over the last three years, according to latest figures from NFU Cymru.


The union has published the figures to highlight the "dangerous" state of the dairy sector on the first day of the Welsh Dairy Event in Carmarthen.


There are now just 2909 dairy farms in Wales, down from 3119 in 2002 and 3389 in 2001, a total drop of 480 farms.


Latest Welsh Assembly figures also showed the value of milk and milk products from Wales have fallen from 274 million sterling pound in 2001 to 251 million sterling pound in 2002, it added.


Low milk prices results in the mass exodus of dairy farmers which was affecting Welsh agriculture as a whole, said deputy president Dai Davies.


"Dairying accounts for one third of the gross agricultural output of Wales. The whole of Welsh farming, and the rest of the rural economy, is being damaged by low milk prices."


Mr Davies said the union had been saying for a long time that the current milk price of 17.8 pence a litre was unsustainable.


"No one can continue to make a loss indefinitely. Farmers are holding on in there, hoping that prices will improve, but they cannot wait any longer," he said.


Milk prices have dropped from 20.5p/litre in 2001 to 17.8p/litre this year but in fact, farmers required milk prices to range between 19 to 20p/litre to cover production costs, he added.
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