Sunday, July 22, 2012


Sometimes nothing beats a cool refreshing glass of the milk.

But the White Stuff is not as innocent as it looks. In fact, its cool clean exterior masks a multitude of sins.

Milk has hit the headlines recently in a battle between farmers and the processors which are imposing cuts to the price paid to farmers for milk.  This is leading to farm gate prices which are less than the cost of producing the milk.  This is not a new fight.  For several years the large powerful dairies, such as Robert Wiseman (now owned by Müller), have put downward pressure on the farm gate price of milk.  This in turn has driven “efficiency” measures in the farming sector, i.e. industrialisation of the process.  About ten years ago I spoke with a farmer planning to build a huge shed so that his cattle could be kept indoors all year round.  This was, he said, due to pressure to cut costs. It was necessary of his farm was to remain sustainable.  The surrounding pasture that the cattle had grazed for generations would be used to produce their feed which would be supplemented with commercial cattle fodder.  I’m sure he wasn’t alone in this change but to me it seemed crazy – taking the cattle away from the grass so that someone can cut the grass and feed it to the cattle and at the other end, the muck would be cleared from the shed and, presumably spread on the field as fertiliser.

What are the issues with milk?

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