Despite having one of the most technically efficient dairy industries in Europe, doubts persist among UK milk marketers that this year's milk quota will be filled. This is because of substantial drops in the number of cows being milked, which cannot be addressed in the current quota year, rather than any technical shortcomings. Changes in milk selling have also changed the picture. For instance, Milk Marque triplet Zenith sold much of its milk on a 12 month contract in April, which means there will be less to sell in what would normally have been the October selling round. "With nearly half our milk sold on a 12 month contract in April, there's no guarantee that we will have enough milk to meet all the enquiries we will get between now and October for additional volumes," said a spokeswoman. The producers' co-operative is busy recruiting new members "selectively" ­ the important criteria being location and proximity to customers. The break up of Milk Marque's national milk marketing brief has freed the successor triplets from some potentially heavy burdens. "We can sell milk as near our producers as possible. Now we can ask customers what they need and they get what they want." Although pricing is usually IMPE-linked in some way, Zenith has been selling at IMPE plus a premium: in April this meant 16.67ppl for producers, which it held in May. June and July saw a modest recovery of the euro against sterling, while this month sees a restructuring of the payment structure which is likely to be worth around 0.3ppl to most producers. The firming in raw milk supplies, however, even following a cool and fairly dry spring, remains attributable to the drop in producer numbers. There are few statistical indicators to show this conclusively, but clean quota prices (permanently held quota) have dropped from nearly 30ppl a year ago to 18ppl, with little change over the last two months. With just over a third of their quota capitalisation wiped out, many tenant dairy farmers have shorter credit lines with which to weather the continuing storm. And recent weeks have seen some high profile producers planning to leave farming. {{PROVISIONS }}