Shropshire farmer could be forced to sell land to 'revitalise' amid TB and costs crisis

A Shropshire farmer has warned he might be forced to sell some of his land in order to help "revitalise" his business in the wake of rising costs.

Michael Roberts from Day House Farm, Nobold, Shrewsbury
Michael Roberts from Day House Farm, Nobold, Shrewsbury

Like many people across the industry, dairy farmer Michael Roberts has been hit by tuberculosis, cost increases and drought.

Mr Roberts, who has about 100 cows at his 202-acre farm in Nobold, near Shrewsbury, warned he might have to sell some of his land for redevelopment in the future in order to put money back into the business.

He said: "I've been hit by TB so my numbers are down at the moment.

"I have about 100 at the moment but we are trying to restock, so hopefully it will be about 120 by Christmastime as more heifers come into the herd.

"The pandemic was OK but the main problem we have had this year was the drought.

"In Shropshire we have been particularly hit hard. A little bit further north hasn't been hit so bad, like Cheshire and Lancashire.

"Consequently, we have been short of grass to feed the cows and have had to use winter stock which means we will be short this winter. Obviously, you have to then buy in more feed.

"Milk prices have jumped up and nearly doubled in some cases - but so have fuel and fertiliser so I am dealing with bigger numbers really and your bottom line is not much different.

"If the fuel and fertiliser prices come down, which they could, we would be making money.

"We have had it bad for a few years now. Even at a good milk price, it will take a few years to recuperate what we have lost. We haven't been able to make enough money to invest in the buildings and parlours.

"We have got 202 acres and I am close to the town so maybe in time we could sell a little bit of land for building which could revitalise my farm. But I shouldn't have to rely on that. Money should be there to reinvest."

Mr Roberts said the Government should do more to support farmers.

"I don't think the Government have helped enough," he said.

"At the end of the day they look where the votes are and there is not enough sympathy for the dairy farmers amongst the voters.

"We get subsides but they are just scratching the service. We need proper prices for our produce."

Mr Roberts was speaking at UK Dairy Day – an annual dairy industry trade event held in central Telford on Wednesday.

Rebecca Barningham, of the UK Dairy Day marketing and PR team, said: "It is a lovely industry but farming is tough.

"I think sustainability is a big thing at the moment and farmers are looking at more ways to be sustainable to generate more money.

"They are leaders in Europe on how to produce milk and are looking at diversity with things like energy and infrastructure on farms to boost income and look after that next generation coming in."

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