Lakeland suppliers commit to future

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Approximately 95% of Lakeland milk suppliers say they will stay in production for the future, including expansion already completed to date. In addition to farmers who have grown their output, half of Lakeland milk suppliers said they will further expand their milk production by approximately 3% in each year to 2022.

These are the main results of a survey carried out by the milk processor, involving all its farmer-suppliers in Northern Ireland.Lakeland Dairies’ milk suppliers in Northern Ireland are confident for their future in dairying, the results of an extensive survey undertaken by the co-operative have indicated.

Farmer owned Lakeland Dairies sources over 600m litres of milk annually from over 700 high quality family farms in Northern Ireland. The co-operative processes milk into a wide range of value-added dairy foodservice products and food ingredients. Lakeland has a portfolio of 240 different dairy products which it exports to 80 countries worldwide. The co-operative’s major Global Logistics Centre and foodservice manufacturing site is located at Newtownards, with butter and powder facilities also located at Banbridge, Co. Down.

The Lakeland Dairies survey asked the co-operative’s Northern Ireland milk suppliers about their intentions across several key areas including their future plans, age and succession intentions, herd size and output, land, buildings and livestock planning.

Lakeland Dairies’ Chairman, Alo Duffy welcomed the findings of the survey, saying: “A thriving co-operative dairy industry is essential to support Northern Ireland’s dairy farmers and the wider community through the promotion of economic growth and rural development.

“We’re very encouraged that almost all of our milk suppliers plan to stay in dairying and many will also continue to expand their output. Lakeland Dairies’ strategy is to create long term competitiveness and sustainability for all our milk producers and to meet the long term needs of our customers in the global food industry where we see constant demand for our products.

“Overall, there is considerable scope for Lakeland milk suppliers to profitably increase output. We are ready and able to process every litre of milk that our dairy farmers will produce.”

Highlights of the results delivered by the survey include the fact that nine in every 10 Lakeland milk suppliers in Northern Ireland are full time dairy farmers.

Over a third of all Lakeland milk suppliers are under the age of 45, and a further third are between 45 and 54 years of age. 11% are under 35 years of age.

By 2022, Lakeland milk suppliers say that they will increase cow numbers on the farm by 11% and milk output from the farm will increase by 14% to approximately 1.26m litres.

Almost two thirds of all milk suppliers said they have identified a successor to take over their dairy business. The majority of successors (77%) are under 35 years of age and the vast majority of these have already undertaken training ranging from Greenmount qualifications to a Primary Degree in Agriculture.

The average area of land that Lakeland milk suppliers own is 139 acres plus a further 103 acres of rented land (total 242 acres). Of this, an average of 105 acres is available for grazing by the dairy herd. More than half of all Lakeland suppliers said they may have access to more land to rent or purchase in the next 5 years.

In terms of farm practices, nine out of 10 Lakeland milk suppliers have milk recording facilities in place, with about four in 10 actively milk recording. Eight in every 10 milk suppliers have tested their soil in the past three years and a half of all milk suppliers are in discussion groups. Approximately half of all Lakeland Dairies’ milk suppliers use nutrient management plans and production costing as part of their dairy farming.

On average, the number of dairy cows on Lakeland supplying dairy farms is 142 with a further 49 replacements also on the farm. Almost two-thirds of milk suppliers calve all year round.

Many Lakeland supplier dairy farms employ staff on either a full-time (21%) or part-time (36%) basis. Some 43% of milk suppliers do not employ any labour on the farm, other than the family’s own inputs.

Alo Duffy added: “Lakeland Dairies has invested substantially in processing capacity over the past 8-10 years. This will enable us to process all milk sent to us by our suppliers over the next three-four years and onwards. The overall competitiveness that we are pursuing will ensure that Lakeland Dairies has the capacity to promote the future success of dairy farming in Northern Ireland long into the future.”