Milking Farmers By the Pint
Sustaining our farmers’ livelihood
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If it wasn’t so udderly appalling, the current dispute between dairy farmers and the supermarkets would be easy meat for a pun fest – but it really isn’t funny.
It’s always tough as an individual consumer, or for that matter single chef, to imagine that your actions alone can make a difference. And the truth is they probably won’t. But we’d never even make it out of bed if that kind of indifference and lethargy prevailed.
As Jay Rayner said in a Guardian piece at the weekend, we Brits do seem to have an affinity with cows and, I would argue, with farmers. But, decades of price squeezing has led to an expectation of cheap food forever – two chickens for a fiver and four pints of milk for pound – looks great on your supermarket receipt, but, if you stop to give it a nano -second’s thought it is plainly unsustainable in every sense of the word.
Amazingly surveys show that three quarters of the UK population think milk is more expensive than it really is. Perhaps even more surprisingly 62% of us say we would be happy to pay more for our milk.
So, if we really do love our cows, hold a special place in our hearts for the albeit unrealistic rural idyll of straw- chewing farmers (of which there are 48% less than there were ten years ago) leading their herds across picture postcard green fields, into their twice daily milking, then there is a pretty simple solution.
OMSCO – the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative, reckon buying organic milk works out about £1 more per family per week. Looking at a well known supermarket’s prices today you can get two pints of organic for £1 as against 89p for regular milk.
In response to the current milk dispute the Soil Association says: ‘Organic farmers have been left largely unaffected by the cuts. The two major organic milk co-ops are part of the Soil Association’s ethical trade scheme, which includes standards to ensure that trade negotiations are open and transparent, with long-term commitments in place and a fair price agreed.’
Yes, it costs more, but, when you think about the price we might all pay if the decline of the UK dairy industry continues at its current rate, regardless of all the other benefits of organic milk, it must be a price worth paying.
Increasing numbers of SRA restaurants are now using organic milk and we have come up with some milk top tips to help all restaurants. If you’re a diner – next time you’re eating out be sure to ask staff if they’re using organic milk.