Great Yorkshire Show: One in seven North Yorkshire dairy farms closes in just three years

One in 10 dairy farms in England and Wales have closed in the last three years, according to new figures revealed as the Great Yorkshire Show got under way in Harrogate today.

Despite the strengthening of dairy prices, they are still below sustainable levels. Picture: Tony Johnson

The number of farms has fallen by 1,000 since June 2013, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said.

The board said it was concerned about the price of milk paid to farmers.

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The highest loss by any county was North Yorkshire, which saw 89 farms disappear, the equivalent of one in seven.

Despite the strengthening of dairy prices, they are still below sustainable levels. Picture: Tony Johnson

An AHDB spokesman said some farmers were still paid around 10p a litre less than it cost them to produce the milk.

Last year, farmers held protests over the price they were paid for milk, closing a Morrisons distribution centre with their demonstration.

Angus Hodge, a dairy farmer at Padworth, Berkshire, said: “The last couple of years have been a struggle with the milk price dropping but we’ve had to trim our costs, with eyes to the future when the milk price picks up.”

The UK’s biggest dairy co-operative Arla today launched ‘Farmers Milk’ which it says will give farmers a guaranteed 25p per £1.20 four-pint bottle.

Despite the strengthening of dairy prices, they are still below sustainable levels. Picture: Tony Johnson

The launch comes as new research reveals despite only two thirds of the population being aware of the troubles facing the UK diary industry, six in 10 would be willing to pay more for a product that directly supports farmers and their families.

When questioned, 43% of people named supporting British producers as the main reason they would pay more for a product, closely followed by fair trade (37%), organic (27%) and animal welfare protection (28%).