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    Milkproof programme to benefit dairy farmers

    Posted 2 September 2011

    ...real data from working farms have enormous value in helping to raise performance and provide evidence of how the industry is adapting to market pressures."

    West Midlands dairy farmers can help to improve their efficiency by joining a research group being co-ordinated by Harper Adams University College as part of its three-year “Milkproof” programme.

    There are 150 places on the programme for farmers in the region who are prepared to share details of their dairy business performance and to look at how they are performing in relation to others. The programme aims to show how dairy farms are adapting and can continue to adapt to market conditions through efficiencies that can be measured and developed. 

    "There's a very strict rule of confidentiality in the way we work," said Lucy Shenton, programme coordinator. "We know that data have to be anonymised but we also know that real data from working farms have enormous value in helping to raise performance and provide evidence of how the industry is adapting to market pressures. 

    “An understanding of efficiency levels enables us to benchmark individual business performance and to make improvements –and our dairy farm partners know we’ll treat their information in complete confidence.”

    Data will be collected from participating farms over a three-year period and will establish the downstream economics of producing milk, especially in relation to the prices paid to dairy farmers by processors. 

    Continuous analysis will feed information back to the 150 farms and Harper Adams will organise training events, workshops and discussion groups to explore the findings and to develop efficiency wherever possible.

    An innovative approach to assessing efficiency will use both fixed and variable costs in relation to production costs, as well as including strategic objectives for each business. 

    Invitations to take part will be issued in the coming weeks but early reservations can be made by calling Lucy on 01952 815066 (direct) or emailing her on

    • Lucy Shenton is a postgraduate researcher who returned to Harper Adams after several years in industry where, she believes, great value is placed on information about how others are improving their performance and how they are doing it as well as support for influencing policy outside the production sector. 

    • The MilkProof programme is supported by Defra, through the West Midlands Rural Development Programme and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. 

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