It's buoyant now, but a serious shortfall is looming for the winter Dairy co-operative First Milk has warned that the UK is facing a milk production crisis this year as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak. First Milk contacted members farming across Great Britain to assess the detailed impact of FMD on milk production patterns. The results predict a serious shortfall next winter equivalent to an entire two days' production in January alone. The Grocer reported in April that continued culling of dairy cows was creating fears among dairy companies of a growing threat to UK milk supplier later this year and into 2002. FMD has reduced the herd so far probably by more than 6% and created a climate whereby producers will be pushing processors hard for higher prices. Production, ironically, currently look buoyant (The Grocer, July 7, p23). But the long-term impact looks serious. The most reliable estimates currently point to the loss of 660 million litres a year. Many farmers are expected to use the cash from FMD slaughter compensation to leave production altogether. First Milk has an 18% share of the GB raw milk market. Chairman John Duncan said: "The milk industry is facing a cliff edge in the late autumn. Current buoyant production levels will not be sustaineld into the winter. "Loss of production has been offset by the high number of cows which are stuck on farms and staying in milk as a result of the suspension of the Over Thirty Month Scheme. "But farmers are telling us they cannot bear the costs of feeding and housing these extra cows through the winter months. "Many cows missed planned inseminations in the early part of FMD. Many will come into milk much later than expected and this will add significantly to difficulties." First Milk anticipates that tha the OTMS effect will add signficantly to production figures in September. But by November only a fraction of this extra milk will still be in production so the underlying deficient will take hold. {{M/E CANNED GOODS }}