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Challenges for beef and sheep farmers post-Brexit could impact on dairy sector

Lowland beef and sheep farmers were looking at dairy conversions, according to Barclays’ Oliver McIntyre at DairyTech 2019.

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Dairy impacted as beef and sheep businesses exit

Challenges for beef and sheep farmers in a post-Brexit world could impact on the dairy sector as those in the lowland consider converting.

 

Speaking at Dairy-Tech, Oliver McIntyre, Barclays, said he had seen a trend of lowland grazing farms looking at dairy as they sought to make their business profitable post-Brexit.

 

“If you are a beef and sheep farm it is the easy option. It is still cows,” he said.


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“What happens with milk prices? If we see too many people coming in, it is supply and demand.”

 

He added the bank was reviewing those asking for funding to convert case-by-case, based on their business plan and was looking for those who had a buyer in place.

 

Planning

 

“I have been on farms that have had no contract and were nowhere near a processor,” he added.

Rob Hitch, Dodd and Co, said Brexit looked ‘scary’ for beef and sheep farmers in any form.

 

“Once we get subsidies removed we are going to see a lot of change.”

 

He observed that it could free up land or see more people converting.

 

“We might sit on the sidelines and think dairy is a little bit immune,” he said.

 

He highlighted it would give processors more choice over where to buy milk and ‘fundamentally raise questions for everybody in the industry’.

 

Anderson’s Mike Houghton said total income from farming figures showed it was ‘nigh on impossible’ to make money from grazing beef and sheep without the Basic Payment Scheme.

 

“We are doing two dairy conversions at the moment," he said.


"It is youngsters coming home where their dad has done beef for years.”

 

However, Mr Houghton highlighted figures showing the number of dairy farmers continued to drop across the UK with a trend to fewer, larger farms which he saw continuing.

 

Other sectors were held up as examples of businesses increasing their efficiency.

 

AHDB chairman Sir Peter Kendall said with broilers, everything was measured ‘to an almost minute detail’ where he had a league table comparing all his key performance indicators.

 

And Mr Houghton highlighted arable farms measuring profit per acre saying technology needed to help farmers understand profit per cow.

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