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Post by Stanley » 21 Jul 2017, 07:07


I dare say many of you saw the forecast by the chairman of Arla, the farmer's dairy cooperative, that he expected a shortage of milk products and higher prices by Christmas. No surprise there for anyone who has been following the fortunes of the milk producers, they have consistently been paid under the cost of production. The 'Market' says this is due to a glut of milk globally and a fall in wholesale prices.
How did we get into this position? 'The Market' has failed to understand that milk is perishable and expensive to transport and that the lead-in time for establishing new cows is at least four years, this is Nature's way. The consequence is that we live in one of the best milk-producing areas in the country and will be hit by shortages.... Well done lads!
In 1933 farming was in a bad way after years of neglect and milk production was particularly badly hit. The government formed the Milk Marketing Board, a statutory body that controlled all milk production, set minimum prices and allocated supplies to where they were needed. Despite some initial hiccoughs and griping by farmers about red tape it was a success and came into its own during WW2. It continued after the war and was an essential tool in the government's efforts to stimulate agriculture, produce more food at home and cut down on imports. Farming had a golden revival and became, once more, a profitable business.
Then came the modern trend towards privatisation and deregulation of markets under the mistaken impression that 'the market' knew best and would always ensure continuity and efficiency of supply. Really? In 1994 the MMB was effectively dissolved and in 2002 was abolished completely in England, 2003 in Scotland. Seventy years of good management was removed, prices were set by the middle men, the dairy industry manufacturers and in the case of liquid milk, by the supermarkets. Farm gate prices fell below the cost of production and the result is what we see today, farmers fighting to survive, food imports rising and prices and availability deteriorating.
At the same time locally we have seen the demise of two important dairies, West Marton and Dobson Brothers at Coates, the number of milk producers has fallen dramatically and our countryside changes as the cattle vanish. I don't think you could find a better example of mismanagement and failure of the market. On top of this we have Cameron's Catastrophe looming over us with the eventual loss of subsidies and uncertainty what input our leaders will make into support for home-grown food and the maintenance of our environment.
You're right, I am angry and convinced that what we are looking at is a story of total disregard for farming and a staggering exhibition of arrogance and incompetence by governments of all shades over the last twenty years. I value local farming and local food, it seems obvious to me that this is a minor consideration in the Westminster Village.


Fred Dawson milking at Thornton Hall in 1976.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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