Not a week goes by without some issue about the evils of supermarkets hitting the news. Yes, of course, without supermarkets shopping would take three times as long and would be a lot more expensive. Yet is it too much to ask them to behave a little better from time to time? Just once?
Milk is a fine example. Supermarkets have dropped the price they pay to farmers to such an extent that many dairy farmers are now producing milk at a loss. They are actually paying money to produce milk, rather than getting an income from it. This is ludicrous. I can’t see a City Banker doing work without being paid for it? Or an MP? Can you?
The supermarkets have decided that milk is to be cheap. Well, good, we can all agree to that. But they have passed the burden of the reduced price to the farmers themselves. What are dairy farmers to do? They’ve invested time and money into building up their herds. Modern milking parlours don’t come cheap. Some people may say that this is how the free market operates – supply and demand and all that. But what are the options for the farmers? Converts their milking sheds into tanning studios? Turn their fields into skate board parks? It isn’t quite as easy as that.
I know these are times of austerity. I know that money is hard to come by. Yet we can’t allow this to happen to our milk industry, otherwise we’ll be importing more and more milk. And we’ve all seen the problems we’ve had with meat contamination issues. Horse meat in your beef lasagne? I’d hate to think what they could contaminate milk with.
I think we need a new drive for Fair Trade Milk. Otherwise, our dairy herds are going to reduce massively and we will have to rely on imports. And I quite like the Cumbrian landscape with plenty of cows feeding on lush, green grass. All we are asking for is a fair price for a great and wholesome product. What’s wrong with that?