An early start, 220 miles, three dairies and no lunch later and I’m pretty sure I know enough about rotary dairies. Pretty impressive pieces of kit. Expensive too. But then any milking parlour, and most pieces of kit for a farm, are expensive. It’s no surprise people are quitting their farms.
In 2001 there were circa 28,000 dairies in England. In 2011 there were just over 11,000. So there are probably in the 10-thousands left now. By 2018 my guide for the day estimated there’ll probably be in the 7-thousands left. But we’ve maintained roughly the same number of cows milking. So basically people are only able to make the money by going bigger.
But going bigger needs money in the first place. Even a planning application to your local council costs tens of thousands. You need bat, road and newt surveys. Archaeology digs where they decide how far, how long and how deep they go, all at your expense. Even then the council could turn round and say no, leaving you working out how to make a living from the land.
Investing in agriculture is a big commitment. I just hope there are sufficient numbers of brave farmers out there so we can continue to eat great British food. I don’t want to live in a nation where we become dependent on other countries to keep us alive.