“Ian is an enduring stalwart of the dairy industry. I bought and sold quota through him back in the 1990’s. His prognosis is all too true, it is indeed the supermarket and the global marketing casino that continue to ensure that the price of milk is subject to the roller-coaster ride it has become tragically accustomed to. A roller-coaster which continually forces dairy farming onto its knees.
But at the other end of the spectrum, as Tom Levitt also points out, a revival is taking place of the small herd supplying fresh, local and mostly unpasteurised milk direct to the public – micro-dairying:
“Unlike the product we pick off the shelf in the supermarket, the milk from micro-dairies is invariably unhomogenised. It is often still pasteurised to kill harmful bacteria, but even the semi-skimmed varieties are sold with the almost forgotten creamy top.
“The difference in the quality of milk, when the focus is on producing quality over quantity, is remarkable and it feels strange to call what we produce and what you pull off the supermarket shelves, by the same word – milk,’ says Josh Healy, who runs North Aston Dairy, a 19-cow herd in Oxfordshire, providing organic milk twice a week for 250 local customers”.
Julian ends: “There could hardly be a more contrasting scenario within the world of dairy farming. I believe that the brighter future might belong to the ‘micro-dairy’ practitioners. Not least because their product is about as close as one can get to ‘real food’, whereas the process of ‘denaturing’, performed on milk from wholesale suppliers destined for supermarkets, is wholly destructive of all the most valuable elements of this once excellent food.
“Ultimately the buyer will come to recognize this difference”.
Part of the year Julian lives and works in Poland. He writes:
The Eastern European peasant family farmer does not know much about what goes on in the corporate run, European Union subsidised, monocultural deserts that churn-out and almost endless supply of nitrate induced, vitamin depleted and pesticide protected – so called ‘foods’. He will not know what the majority of Westernised consumers dump into their trolleys on the way to the check-out desk, car boot and home freezer chest.
Read more in his excellent paper: ‘The Future is the Farmer’ in Discussion Papers.