With a drop of 5.5% compared with last year, March milk deliveries to dairies were the lowest for four years, reflecting the scramble to avoid going over quota.

However, milk deliveries for the year were still 1.2% higher than in the year to March 2003.

Provisional estimates from the Rural Payments Agency indicate that cumulative UK milk deliveries for the quota year at 14,059 million litres were a fractional 0.1% below the national wholesale quota.

This means super levies on over quota milk for individual farmers will depend on how much milk was sold direct to consumers.