A DAIRY farmer has been forced to diversify as the price he’s paid for his milk has risen just half a pence per litre over the last 13 years.

The milk shed in Llangrove, near Ross-on-Wye, is the brainchild of dairy farmer Chris Amos and his wife Heather, who had to think of a new way to sell some of their milk as prices stagnated.

He’s now calling on supermarkets to rethink how much they sell milk for, saying £1 for four pints is not enough for anyone to make money on the product.

“They’re ruling the roost as far as milk prices are concerned. Four pints for a pound is criminal,” Mr Amos, of Great Trewen Farm, near Llangrove, said.

“We had a letter come from our milk supplier in October (2019) saying they were going to drop the milk price again and it’s a case of the figures not adding up.

“We had to make a decision about what we were going to do, it was something we’d spoken about for a couple of years because we had to diversify somewhere along the line.

“It was the decision we had to make, but we’ve got the cows and we’ve got the milk. We then bought a pasteuriser and opened the milk shed, and so far it’s going nicely.”

Even though the milk shed, based at Llangrove village hall, has been received well by locals, it doesn’t mean the issue of milk prices is any less important for the husband-and-wife team.

“My wife and I took over the running of the farm in September 2007.

“Our milk suppliers sent us a letter then and they raised the milk price to 26 pence (per litre).

“Our milk price last month was 26 and a half pence. In 13 years we’ve gone up half a pence. You can’t tell me costs haven’t gone up more than that.

“That’s the crux of the problem. Milk is too cheap in supermarkets, but the most annoying thing is that the general public would probably pay more for milk.”

Mr Amos said that although times are hard, he does believe shoppers would pay more for milk. He thinks prices should be “well within the mid-30s”.

The Hereford Times has been singing the praises and highlighting the issues of our county’s farmers with our #BackingHerefordshireFarming campaign.

The price of milk is an issue for most, if not all, dairy farmers as a new report highlights.

It show dairy farmers’ profits recovered in 2019/20 after falling in 2018/19, but mainly because costs fell.

The Old Mill Milk Cost of Production Report found that dairy farm profits averaged £233 per cow in the year to March 31, 2020 – up from £141 the previous year.

They credit this largely to reduced purchased feed costs.

There is still a big gap between the top and bottom producers, with the top 10 per cent averaging a profit of 12p per litre compared with a loss of 5.48p for the bottom 10 per cent, with 24 per cent of the sample not breaking even.

“This is a big reason why 2.5 per cent of producers are ceasing production annually,” said Gerard Finnan, farm business consultant at the Farm Consultancy Group.

“At the current rate, a lot of the bottom 10 per cent could be gone in four-to-five years’ time, unless they change their management decisions.”

It’s the third year in a row income has remained stable, with both yields and prices seeing little change on the previous season.

Though the average milk price remained around 31p per litre, the subsequent challenges presented by Covid-19 meant a number of milk buyers instructed suppliers to cut production or dispose of milk.