Life doesn’t get much more delicious than making your own butter using local cream and I’ve been making my own cultured butter for many years. My perfect breakfast is sourdough, toasted with butter and marmalade, a pot of coffee and the Sunday papers
. I’m not sure it needs much explanation .. but in essence it’s half way to a fabulous breakfast. Now despite the fact that I have been buying the cream and the milk from Newlands Dairy for years I didn’t really know much about it. I know that it’s from a dairy just down the road and it’s on sale at my local farm shop and green grocers, so I decided at the weekend to find out a bit more about where the milk comes from. I didn’t get much time with Gerald, the farmer because one of his cows was having difficulty calving, however I did get to look around the dairy and meet the cows.
Sadly there wasn’t time to ask Gerald about the current situation for Dairy farmers, but the desperate situation of many of our dairy farmers has been well documented. We’ve had the coldest March for more than 50 years, which stopped farmers putting herds out to grass and forcing them to buy in extra feed. On top of which the unseasonal weather has also increased the price of wheat feed, which now costs a fifth more than it did a year ago. Despite the price of milk at an all time high at 30.1p the cost of producing milk has also risen.
It doesn’t seem to me to be much of a celebration when DEFRA agreed that the average UK farmgate price for milk stood at 26.38 pence per litre (ppl) in July 2012 when the cost of production where a farmer could make a profit stood at over 30ppl. So 30.1pence isn’t really much to celebrate if you ask me!
It’s not an easy job being a dairy farmer. Many farmes are up to their ears in debt, the cowes need milking at 5am and again at 4pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. So I am filled with dread when I read that the pressure of low market prices for milk have been forcing farmers to leave the market and there are real fears that if prices continue to fall the dairy industry in the UK could just disappear altogether. I also read some research that showed that from February 2005 and 2011, in Devon and Cornwall alone, 489 dairy farmers left the industry.
It’s really is time to support our British dairy farmers, and wherever possible buy direct. Buy local and if that isn’t possible then let your supermarket know that it’s really important that buy British and we pay a fair price for our milk.