Milk prices

Much has been written about the role of supermarkets in the ruining of Britain's dairy industry. They aren't a monopoly in the strict sense of the word but the choice between their combined power is one between Scylla and Charybdis - if you are a dairy farmer it is simply a matter of which one you get screwed by. But farmers themselves must take some responsibility for allowing a state of affairs to develop where they are producing milk at a loss and for less than the cost of bottled water.

This is down to the nature of the business - surely one of the toughest there is. You are up at four in the morning every day of the year and milking twice a day - all the time surrounded by, and covered by, shit. You are self employed and living and working on your own. This breeds a bunker mentality - hunker down, cut your costs and battle on and you'll get through. Where I live in Somerset I am surrounded by dairy farmers like this who never speak to each other let alone act together. The result? The supermarkets are crushing them individually.

If all these farmers got together - with friends and family - and stood outside their local supermarkets with banners asking for a fair price just watch things change. Big business is allergic to this sort of PR. But they won't. They haven't done so for the last twenty years as they have been individually ground down and they won't now. It's a tragedy - but one in which they are sadly complicit.


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