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If you are experiencing any issues as a result of COVID-19, please get in touch and we will do all we can to help. 

Below is our recent letter to George Eustice, NFU and RABDF. It is important than goats are included for any compensation for milk dumped during the Covid-19 emergency. We have received positive responses from the NFU and RABDF, and we would encourage any affected members to complete the RABDF survey at https://www.rabdf.co.uk/survey

I am writing on behalf of the Milking Goat Association which is the body representing UK commercial goat farmers. Most of our members are milk producers but many also produce goat meat. Both the dairy goat and meat sectors have been impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak due to the loss of the food service and hospitality markets. The worst hit MGA members are those that supply only the food service sectors. Many of these members either make their own artisan cheeses supplied to the hospitality sector or supply dairy’s that do so. These businesses have been hit very hard with some of them having to throw all their milk away.

Like all livestock businesses they still have to feed and care for their animals every day regardless leaving them with bills to pay and no revenue. Clearly unless something is done to help they will rapidly go out of business. As we are a small and specialist industry there would be no rapid recovery as the goats and farmers with their specialist skills would be lost.

I note from your organisations news briefings that you have put together a bailout package to help dairy farmers affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. I would urge you to ensure that the UK dairy goat sector is covered by this package.

I would like to clarify three points of difference to the dairy cow industry

Firstly we have a “considerably higher cost base”

Secondly this results in a “higher price paid for goat’s milk”

Thirdly the dairy goat sector would need “55p per litre for raw goat’s milk” by means of compensation rather than the 25p put forward for the dairy cow sector.

Yours faithfully Philip Ormerod Press secretary MGA

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Thanks  were expressed to Tereza Fairbairn (who has stood down since the last meeting due to other commitments) for the work she has put into the MGA over the last 2 years.

Will Frost wanted to note that he would be standing down as Chairman at the next AGM. Charlie Whitehouse suggested as successor.

It is hoped that some of the more Northern producers could be encouraged onto the board, to improve the geographical spread of participants!

Sam Kelly, as Treasurer, reported the organisation to have a healthy reserve, primarily due to the fantastic level of Sponsorship achieved this year.  

Unfortunately, the ongoing Bristol Uni project has had to be put on hold, so it was decided that the end date should be extended to enable it to continue.

In the meantime, Will Frost stressed the need to think about further research topics that could be undertaken. One idea was looking into breeding (being of major importance to the industry in order to move forward genetically and improve herds). Another topic suggestion was regarding Cell Counts and how these can be used to detect underlying problems.

Any students wanting to do PhDs should be encouraged!

It was stressed that research findings need to be communicated back to levy contributors.

With some confusion over levies and membership, it was decided that there will be no membership fee for levy payers. Full members will pay the levy based on the litres they produce. This will be collected via the milk buyer for most, but some will need to pay directly. Bandings for levy charges for these members are being worked out. There will be no other FULL membership fees. Non producers will still be asked to pay the ASSOCIATE membership rate, which is to remain at £75.

A discussion was held about whether to have another Open Day. As Sam Kelly said, this was a very successful day financially and also thoroughly enjoyed by all. The GVS are planning a farm visit on the day before their conference on 11th June 2020 at Taunton Racecourse and reducing their meetings in this way to one and a half per year. The Dairy Sheep and Goat Conference (27/28th January 2020) is another big event which offers Workshops alongside, so the difficulty for the MGA is whether there is an appetite for another. Planned roadshows on hold until Bristol Uni research restarts. One suggestion was to make more of the AGM (23rd April 2020) with sponsorship for small scale advertising at larger venue such as Hartpury College with guest speakers to make it more of an event.

Kathleen Weilkoposka has put herself forward to be MGA representative involved with the formation of a new organisation – The Goat Health and Welfare Group. (GHAWG) This group is the brainchild of the GVS with the intention of setting up a body to represent as many parts of the goat sector as possible.

During discussions it came to light that some members have been approached by government officials wanting to come on farm and discuss certain practises. Members should be aware that extreme caution should be taken over any visitors to the farm. Identification is very important.

KIWA has made changes to the Farm Assurance schedule that goat farmers are required to adhere to in order to get goat standards up to the same as expected for the Red Tractor Dairy scheme. Recent additions include Johnes policy/Condition Scoring/Locomotion Scoring and Environmental Enrichment. Concern was expressed within the board that there was no consultation prior to the introduction of the new requirements. The general feeling was also that those new stipulations have been very much driven by trying to align the caprine with the bovine scheme with no consideration for species specifics. There are no objections to making improvements and being a part of the Red Tractor scheme, as long as the goat industry can have a say and irrelevances re goats don’t creep in. (It has been noticed that dairy goats and Boer meat goats have all been shoved within the same set of photos – totally unacceptable). Dissatisfaction to be expressed to KIWA.

The board also wanted to congratulate Will Frost for his amazing achievement in becoming DAIRY FARMER of the YEAR at the recent Farmers Weekly Awards!  Gary Yeomans , also to be congratulated for being a very worthy runner-up, and what an accolade for the Dairy Goat Industry!    

Milking Goat Association Limited.  Registered in England & Wales No. 10043065

The Milking Goat Association is a not-for-profit organisation