25 10 2021

Economic Success of Diary Farms: What are the issues for farmers in the Atlantic area?

From Northern Ireland to Portugal, 89 farmers in the Atlantic area responded to a survey to assess the effect of external factors on the economic success of their business.

The online survey, addressed to the pilot farmers of the European Dairy4Future project, was carried out in spring 2020. A total of 34 Portuguese, 17 French, 16 Spanish, 11 Irish and 11 UK farmers were surveyed. Recruited for their technical and economic efficiency and their capacity for innovation, these pilot farms are not representative of the average dairy farm in their regions. Nevertheless, their answers highlight the challenges faced by European dairy farmers.

Dairy farmers face many changes in the external environment, which impact the profitability of their farms. Difficulties of access to land, the increase of agricultural equipment prices and the rise in societal expectations affect the economic success of farms, according to the surveyed dairy producers.
Farmers must therefore continually adapt to these changes. This adaptation is a question of internal issues within the farms (e.g. changes in farming practices), but also of relations between actors in the sector. This is why many measures have been taken by the stakeholders to support dairy farmers. These are mainly initiatives related to the nature of the dairy contract and the milk price. For example, in Ireland and the UK, contracts with guaranteed milk prices or covering production costs have largely developed, while in France, Spain and Portugal they are still difficult to be deployed.
Finally, the low availability of labour and the lack of social recognition of livestock farming were also highlighted by D4F farmers.

Therefore, these results show the real requirement for initiatives to improve the attractiveness of the dairy farming profession.

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