Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MILKING THE PROFITS

"All across the country, diary farmers are facing the loss of their livelihood. In 1985, there were 28,000 diary farmers in England and Wales. By last November ... there were 11,551 left. As recently as two years ago Britain was self-sufficient in milk. Now we import 1.5 million litres a day. For the farmers who struggle on, their working lives – and that of their herds – have become a grind: such is their despair that one a week commits suicide. Forget the idyll of the straw-hatted farmer watching his contented cows chewing the cud in open pasture. Many herds have never seen fields. They are indoors day and night and are milk-producing machines, fed on grass brought to them and mixed with concentrates to boost their yields. The chief villains are the supermarkets which, by driving down milk prices, are forcing farmers to intensify production or go out of business and leave the way clear for foreign imports. Currently one litre of full fat milk costs around 75p – of which farmers get around 26p, the exact cost of producing it." (Daily Telegraph, 9 January) RD

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