Saturday, 10 January 2015

Dairy farmers need our support.

Waiting to be milked. But for how much longer?
Dairy farmers are once again hitting the news for all the wrong reasons as milk prices plummet. A massively steep drop has occurred from around 34p per litre seen at the start of last year, to prices now quoted in the low 20s in some cases.

Asda, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland are selling four pints of milk for just 89p, while Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose are not far behind at £1, making a pint of milk cheaper than mineral water in most supermarkets.

To add to the woes, FIRST Milk – a large farmer co-operative, have announced that their farmers will not be paid their next scheduled milk cheque on January 12 as significant cash flow issues have emerged at the co-operative.

Unfortunately in the short term things look as though they are only going to get worse before they get better again. Many think that more dairy farmers will go bust in the EU this year than has ever happened before.

It is not just that Supermarkets are using milk as a lost leader, which must surely devalue the product in the public’s eyes, but it is also that milk supplies remain high, as the world is producing far too much milk.

Independent dairy analyst Ian Potter says “If anyone is thinking these are the final cuts they are very optimistic and are not reading the tea leaves. The pinch point will come in the spring and unless things change we are going to be in a very serious situation”.

I always feel that dairy farmers, almost more than any other type of farming, are so dedicated and “tied into” what they do – milking their cows morning and evening, 365 days of the year. So don’t just grab the cheapest milk when you shop – a few extra pence spent on your pint can help to see our British farmers through this crisis. Also, make sure it is British milk that you buy!

Otherwise, all we will be left with in the future will be a few massive, industrial scale indoor milking units, with cows never feeling the grass under their hooves. Meanwhile we will find ourselves explaining to future generations how black and white cows used to walk about in the fields and children listening in disbelief.       

1 comment:

  1. There's not much to convince me here. Dairy farming has a huge environmental footprint in terms of water use, grain use, carbon emissions, pollution etc. Wildlife gets a pretty hard time of it on a dairy farm. Paying more for milk might 'support British farmers', but are there any benefits for wildlife or ecosystem services? Perhaps a better call would be to consume less milk. Personally, I'd look forward to a future with fewer cows in the countryside.