FARMER Jim Read is preparing to take a £40,000 hit over the coming 12 months, with the big processors dropping the amount they pay per litre of milk by 2p a litre.

Mr Read, who owns Pyrland Farm on the northern edge of Taunton, says the move from June 1 will mean he is unable to reinvest in the business.

He has been at the forefront of modernisation, having put in a £600,000 robotic milking system in cow-friendly, airy buildings on the 300-acre farm.

The machinery allows the animals to decide when they want to be milked, a robotic arm attaching the milking cups and later cleaning the teats and cups while a robotic scraper keeps the floors clean.

The system, which replaced a 30-year-old milking parlour, has increased lactation, improved milk yields, made herd management easier and resulted in healthier cows that live longer.

Mr Read said: “We’ve invested heavily in improving the welfare of our cows and meeting all the modern regulations. It’s cost a lot of money but at the end of the day we’re dealing with animals.

“Now the processors are going to be paying us 26.8p a litre when it costs us 30p a litre to produce. By forcing prices down, we won’t be able to reinvest in the business.”

Mr Read, whose son, Harry, 22, wants at some stage to take on the farm started by his grandfather in 1949, has diversified to attract more income, with a shop and B&B.