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The devastating Beast from the East will have affected virtually everyone, and not solely from the biting winds which blew straight through you.
Apart from the collection disruption which claimed 20 million litres of dumped milk, there is no grass daring to poke its head above the parapet, and desperate spring-calvers will be hitting the buffers. Couple this with the sodden ground and, for all but light landers, spring cannot come soon enough.
But it’s an ill wind which blows no good, and it should at least have taken the edge off those anticipated milk volumes across the EU which threatened to put downward pressure on our prices.
Because of this, it will now be a close call as to whether Arla will drop its price for April and become the first mainstream processor to pitch sub-26ppl for the standard litre, and if it does could tip the whole domino stack into collapse.
Let’s hope with butter futures creeping up and with its own internal economy drive, it is able to maintain its price above that all-important 26ppl headline threshold, which, for many, could equate to 23-24ppl after recent quality and seasonality adjustments.
But the meteoric collapse in prices this year underlines the urgent need for a mechanism to stabilise producer returns, and following Lactalis’ fixed price offering and Yew Tree Dairies’ forward pricing, we now await the details of the new Lidl-Muller deal.
However, these are nowhere near enough in themselves and the Government now thinks it has the answer and will be ‘introducing compulsory milk contracts between producers and purchasers to help protect dairy farmers by setting out clear terms, including the price for delivery of milk’.
Well, it is too early to know whether this will work yet, but our contributor Ian Potter (see p14) warns that we need to be watching this one pretty closely!