BETTER summer rains have helped the dairy industry, but drought in the Western Cape, cost pressures and consumer resistance to price hikes remain a challenge. Clover had lacklustre interims in March, and Dairybelle, a household name for decades, is being liquidated. But according to Milk Producers Organisation economist Koos Coetzee, conditions this year are more favourable for farmers than a year ago. International product growth has slowed and exporting countries such as Uruguay, New Zealand and Argentina experienced negative growth last year. In South Africa, total milk production last year was 0.5% below the previous year's level. Lower grain prices have already resulted in higher margins for farmers. Preliminary figures from industry body Milk South Africa show that total milk intake in the first four months of this year was 0.1% less than during the same period last year. Lower grain prices will probably have a positive effect on total milk production but the impact of the dro...

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