german dairy farm future

The Future of Dairy Farms



utter stock (3) workload
tough turnover make a living
profit afford to compared to
ideal expand competitive
risk ensure long term
factor volatile under control
region point (3) stay on top of things
quota hamper alternative
ban decline slowdown
pour prompt demonstration
unfair stall (2) retirement
allow smoothly bear the cost






The cows’ utters are full, and it’s time to get to work.

Heino Muller has invested in a new system: it allows him to milk sixteen cows at the same time.

It has reduced his workload, and allowed him to triple the number of dairy cows at his farm.

But even with the new technology, making a living as a dairy farmer is tough — low milk prices make it hard to turnover a profit.

Haino Muller, Dairy Farmer: “I think it’s unfair that a liter of mineral water is more expensive than a liter of milk; a lot more works goes into producing milk compared to a liter of water or cola.”

But the Mullers believe in their business. Conditions in this region of northern Germany are ideal for dairy farming.

The father and son team have invested a lot of money to ensure the farm remains competitive in the long term.

But rapid growth isn’t without its risks.

Bastian Muller, Dairy Farmer: “It’s a difficult issue. Generally, I like to see everything going smoothly, and for things to be under control, including all the individual aspects.

But when it expands beyond a certain point, it’s no longer possible to stay on top of everything.”

Many dairy farmers made big investments in their business before the European Union lifted milk quotas earlier this year.

But political and economic factors have hampered many farmers’ hopes for expansion.

Jan Heusmann, Lower Saxony Dairy Industry Association: “Last August, Russia banned imports, so we could no longer sell large quantities of cheese to Russia.

And sales to China have declined too, probably as a result of the economic slowdown there.”

Low milk prices have prompted the Mullers to join demonstrations: once they even poured away their milk in protest.

But they wouldn’t do that again.

Hoino Muller, Dairy Farmer: “We can’t just quit. Only someone close to retirement can afford to stop production.

We can’t do that because we have to bear the costs of building the stalls and everything.

We have no alternative.”

The farmers are set to get a few more cows at the end of the year, including younger stock that won’t produce much milk until their third or fourth year.

But price volatility means the future for dairy farmers like Haino Muller is most uncertain.

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1. Haino and Bastian Muller milk their cows by hand. Is this right or wrong?

2. New dairy technology has increased their turnover and profits greatly. Yes or no?

3. Is the price and milk versus mineral water and cola surprising?

4. What two political changes were mentioned in the video? How have these affected the dairy industry?

5. What economic factors have influenced dairy farming?

6. How did dairy farmers respond to lower milk prices?

7. The Mullers are going to quit dairy farming. True or false? Does the future look rosy or uncertain?


A. Describe dairy farming and the dairy industry in your country. Has it been changing?

B. Have milk, cheese, butter, cream, yoghurt and ice-cream been popular in your culture? Has their popularity been increasing, decreasing or remained the same?

C. Which countries are famous for their dairy products? Are they delicatessens in your city?

D. What might happen in the future?


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