The Duke of Rothesay hears from Scottish dairy farmers about future prospects

September 9, 2016

HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay hosted a reception on Thursday 8 September at Dumfries House to celebrate the fourth year of the Prince’s Dairy Initiative.

Established in 2012 by His Royal Highness, this Prince’s Countryside Fund led initiative aims to strengthen the UK dairy supply chain, help ensure a diverse and resilient sector and support farmers in adapting to uncertainty and volatility of farm gate prices.

Managed in partnership with AHDB Dairy, 27 farm businesses from Cumnock and Campbeltown participated in the programme this year which included benchmarking of their farm production costs as well as taking part in a series of free practical workshops on topics such as herd health and financial management.

Ayrshire, which has traditionally been seen as the heartland of dairying in Scotland, has faced uncertainty in recent years. Whilst the climate is well-suited to grazing and dairy farming, the high levels of rainfall across these regions means that cows have to be housed indoors for a higher proportion of the year than in other areas of the UK, therefore increasing the costs of milk production.

Bryce Cunningham is a farming tenant with 63 Ayrshire cows in Mauchline and joined the Prince’s Dairy Initiative. He said: “I was really worried about the collapse of the dairy industry in Scotland and I, like other dairy producers in Ayrshire, was looking at ways to seek alternate income. The Prince’s Dairy Initiative helped me look at my business differently and I began diversifying the way we worked. We introduced new things such as rotational cattle grazing, opened up a new farm shop to sell milk directly to the public and provided milk to the cook school at Dumfries House. Our next step is to look at becoming a fully organic credited farm to continue progressing.”

Claire Saunders, director for the Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “By offering this programme of tailored support to dairy farmers in Scotland, we have been able to help the families involved implement practical improvements on farm. This will help ensure a viable and robust future. By bringing together similar sized businesses we have been able to create networks of support and a lasting legacy to help ensure the future of dairying in Scotland.”