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Matthew Edwards
4th year
‘Mooving On’. Intensification of Dairy Farming In Dumfriesshire: Impacts on the Environment and Farm Economies
The diminishing profit margins of milk production has meant that dairy farms have had to intensify in order to remain financially viable, which can negatively impact the environment. Due to climate conditions that favour grass growth, Dumfriesshire accounts for 20% of Scotland’s dairy cows. Therefore, this research aims to assess how intensification has impacted dairy farming in Dumfriesshire, financially and environmentally, evaluating the systemic pressures in the dairy industry that push farmers to increase their herd which then poses new environmental challenges. This research does so by analysing literature and complementing that with the opinions of 13 Dumfriesshire dairy farmers and 4 key informants with expert knowledge of the dairy sector in Dumfriesshire. This research concludes that changes to the dairy farming industry since the mid-twentieth century have had enormous impacts on farmers and the wider environment. Dairy farmers’ success is now in part determined by the ability to continually produce more milk. Subsequently, with increased milk output there is more slurry on farms which farmers believe is the primary environmental issue due to poor regulation and issues with stocking density. To achieve key policy goals such as dealing with climate change and the environment more generally, it is essential to positively engage with farmers more actively and provide them with the financial support that milk contracts don’t offer. By understanding the underlying issues of environmental pollution, such as financial pressure, and understanding the viewpoints of farmers these issues can be mitigated.
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