Farmers affected by the drought and COVID-19 can take some heart from the latest forecast for sheep and beef exports for the 2019/20 season.
According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the UK trade balance for all dairy products was positive in volume terms in 2019.
AHDB says there was a surplus of 95k tonnes of product, resulting in the first trade surplus on record since records began in 1997.
Skim milk and buttermilk recorded the largest improvements in the trade balances.
AHDB says the improvement in the trade balance for skim milk is a “direct result” of shifting trade patterns across the Irish border, whereas buttermilk’s trade balance was influenced by reduced shipments from France, Belgium and Germany.
Cheese, yoghurt, and butter are still trading at a deficit, despite some growth in butter and cheese.
AHDB says the power trade surplus increased and the cream trade shifted from a trade deficit in 2018 to a surplus in 2019.
In value terms, there was still a trade deficit, however it has reduced since 2018, with the value of exports growing and the value of imports shrinking.
AHDB says butter was a large contributor to the improvements to the trade deficit, thanks to reduced imports in 2019 and lower prices making the volume deficit worth less overall.