Dairy farmers in SA could soon be extinct, with almost two-thirds having already deserted the industry over a little more than a decade as their margins have shrunk .

And though the production of milk in SA has increased slightly over that time as farms have grown in size, the defection of almost 5000 dairy farmers has caused severe job losses .

The number of dairy farmers has declined from 7077 in 1998 to 2686 at the beginning of this year. A total of 646 of SA’s dairy farmers packed up in just the 10 months from March last year to January this year.

Koos Coetzee, chief economist of the Milk Producers’ Organisation, which represents about 85% of dairy farmers, says prices now being paid to farmers are on average 5% lower in nominal terms than a year ago.