After one of the most difficult years in living memory, many dairy farmers will be wondering whether or not they will still be milking cows at the end of 2013 and who can blame them? The squeeze put on milk prices back in the early summer, dreadful weather and the continuing increase in input costs, has challenged the resolve of even the most dedicated producers.
So, what lies ahead? Right now it seems that we are no further forward in securing a fair reward for our endeavours. Yes, milk prices have risen this winter in response to farmers uniting in protest. But, in reality, milk buyers, have done little more than quell the riot, as returns still fail to match the costs of production for most. Whilst protests continue, thanks to the dedication of Farmers for Action and passionate individuals, public concern seems to have switched to other news, as it always does over time.
For me, public interest in our food and our farms is vital if we are to end 2013 in a healthier state than we find ourselves at its dawning. There is little in this world we can directly control (certainly not the weather), but we can exert influence through engagement and co-operation and this is exactly what Free Range Dairy is seeking to achieve. Too often we sit back and accept our fate – we hear farmers say “the supermarkets are just too powerful”, highlighting how they have become resigned to just taking what they are given. We have to start believing we can make a difference. So, please join me in making one New Year’s Resolution for 2013 and that is:
I will work to achieve real value for milk from pasture-based dairy herds and win recognition for a British dairy farming system we can all be proud of.
As the TV advert says “Believe in Better”.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!