The results of a recent survey of Scottish dairy farmers shows an industry with mixed levels of confidence.
A seminar held at AgriScot on Wednesday (Nov 20) heard more than 60 per cent of dairy farmers are ‘not so confident’ or ‘not at all confident’ about the direction of travel for the Scottish dairy industry.
But conversely just over 15 per cent are ‘extremely confident’ or ‘very confident’.
The same variation of opinion was obvious when it came to future plans with about 30 per cent saying they had ‘no confidence’ to invest in the short term with the same proportion saying they were ‘very confident’ or ‘confident to invest’.
A further 40 per cent were in between.
The survey, which attracts 125 responses was discussed at a seminar jointly hosted by Scottish Dairy Hub and Kite Consultancy and dairy analyst Chris Walkland.
The survey authors felt confidence levels could easily swing one way or another, depending on what happens with regards to future agricultural policy and the milk price.
When compared to 2016, when milk prices crashed, a third say their businesses are stronger, but two thirds believed their businesses were unchanged.
Looking to the future, a third of farmers are intent on expansion, mostly by up to 10 per cent, but two thirds of farmers will keep output the same.
Only seven per cent are looking to cut volumes. Based on this survey, it looks as if milk volumes in Scotland will continue to grow.
There was some optimism amongst the dairy farmers for life post Brexit with 60 per cent thinking their businesses would be about the same or better off.
David Keiley, Kite Consulting’s senior advisor in Scotland, said: “Scotland has a very polarised milk field, with some farmers getting very good milk prices while most aren’t.
“A lot of businesses have been cash negative for a while, and that is putting a lot of pressure on them.
“Many are on a knife edge currently having to deal with increasing overdrafts, higher levels of debts per cow and creditor burdens.
NFU Scotland’s Milk Policy Manager Stuart Martin, who also runs the Scottish Dairy Hub added: “The survey and its results are significant and have implications for the whole supply chain in Scotland.”