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Got milk? Perhaps we should be paying more for it

News Section Icon Published 23/07/2012


There’s a milky mess bubbling up in the UK as dairy farmers demand an end to industry price cuts. We take a look at the issue and what we can do about it.

Dairy farmers’ anger

The last few days have seen a number of protests by UK dairy farmers. Their beef? That they’re not getting a fair price for their product, and may even be making a loss. Farmers are holding rallies, protests and demonstrations to show their anger, and some even feel forced to threaten extreme measures, like dumping their milk.

Milk – a loss-leader?

The recent protests arose after a wholesale cut of 2p a litre was proposed, threatening to force farmers out of business and push the price of milk higher for consumers in the long run. This comes at a time when farmers are battling rising prices for fuel, feed and energy.

What the price of milk could actually mean

Behind the figures, there are real people, animals and landscapes – all at risk from this situation. One proposed "solution" is the further intensification of the UK’s dairy industry, which would be a huge mistake and could lead to a range of problems.

Ultimately, we should be supporting UK dairy farmers who keep their cows in fields, where they belong, not putting them out of business.

Celebrity endorsement

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver agrees – in a letter to The Times1, he said: "Milk is a brilliant food but we have all lost sight of its value. We pay more for bottled water than we do for milk – yet water bubbles out of the ground, while milk comes from livestock which need our care. How mad is that?" We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

How you can help

The political head of UK farming, Jim Paice, hasn’t had an easy week. When asked how much the average pint of milk cost, he was lost for words, blaming his ignorance on the fact that his "wife buys most of it"2. But he still has the power to help. If you want to let Jim know that you support a call for urgent milk-price reform, send him an email.

Do you live outside the UK? Have you ever witnessed similar issues? We’d love to hear from you.

Our sources

  1. Jamie's Support for Dairy Farmers
  2. Farming Minister Jim Paice: 'I Don't Know The Price Of Milk, My Wife Buys It'

Huge thanks to Joe Shlabotnik for the image (cc)


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