A North Yorkshire farmer has described how he nearly quit the UK
because he was finding it so hard to make a living out of dairy
Jonathan Robertshaw says he was disillusioned, and unhappy with
the way the milk market was set up in Britain. He's now switched
to producing goats milk and secured his family's immediate future
Jonathan Robertshaw's two children, five year-old Thomas and two-and-a-half
year-old Amy, like the new animals on their dad's farm near Grewelthorpe.
Their father now has 500 goats - British Saanen, British Toggenburn
and British Alpine. They produce high-quality milk which is sold
on to St Helen's Farm at Seaton Ross in the Vale of York where some
of it is also made into butter, yogurt and cheese. He sees it as
a good move.
"Really, I wanted to move into a sector that was going to
be more profitable for my business. There are two reasons why I
felt goats were the answer. Firstly the dairy I supply, St. Helens
near York, have had a positive, steady growth for the last 15-20
years in the goat dairy market.
"Secondly, and probably more importantly for me, there is
the potential to make a very good margin out of it."
But it could all have been very different. Jonathan Robertshaw,
who's the fifth generation of his family in farming, felt dairy
farming was no longer going to keep him in business.
"I was disillusioned with the dairy cow industry so I started
to look at the various options available, goats being one of them.
"Basically it's the price and margin at the end of the day.
The supermarkets and large national dairies that have control of
the market place, and I decided I wanted to try and do something
"I always wanted to stay in farming, my options were going
abroad rather than staying in the country but thankfully I have
been able to stay in this country and hopefully, create a future.
"If the choice was between milking dairy cows in this country
or abroad, would go abroad straight away. You'd be moving into a
society that would be more inclined to view agriculture positively,
less regulations and your money would definitely go a lot further."
How do you think this country views farmers? Are we sending
them overseas? Have your say using the
form at the bottom of the page.
The switch from dairy to goat farming was made possible by a grant
from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
For Jonathan Robertshaw, his herd of goats, which he hopes to add
another hundred to before long, suggests a bright future and one
he and his family can enjoy in North Yorkshire.
BBC Radio York
Have your say on this issue
It's a little more complicated than Mr Kenneth Firby's comments indicate, but essentially i completely agree with him--Amen.
All credit to Jonathan, firstly for staying in this country and secondly for thinking through what has transpired to be a sound and deserved business decision. I personally think this gives a great learning opportunity for young children. I hope Jonathan (if he hasn't already)considers having organised tours for schools. I've heard of one or two farms that have even erected or converted an existing farm building into a learning centre where teachers can interact with the children. They can also rest and eat their packed lunched there.
I am offended that at least 50% of the Western world holds disdain for rural lifestyle. My father was a farmhand in an orchard. My grandfather raised dogs and farm animals, growing vegetables for home usage. His father professionally delivered milk and eggs from door to door. My other grandfather landscaped for a living. None of this seems appealing to the new wealth which wants a purely urbanite-capitalist lifestyle. I wonder why the cosmopolites would ridicule the genuine people, but elevate those who have been popularly known to be guilty of many crimes in fraud and the like. I praise the farmer for being a hero to his people in filling their bellies, rather than the avarice of libertines.