Getting dairy’s message across?

The dairy price protests have had one definite and highly worthwhile effect. There’s no doubt that a great many people outside agriculture are now aware that there is a dairy sector and that it has a problem with low prices. The problem, made clear in my highly unscientific survey of a couple of non-farming people I know, is that the public knows what it wants from dairying.

People in Britain want dairy farming to be pretty. They want small herds of cows tended by men in smocks and milkmaids in frilly dresses. At the same time, they think milk is already too expensive and should be cheaper. Work that one out.

It’s hard to see where any more money is coming from. Eventually, as Rabobank explains in our cover story, the price signals get through and production goes down, and then the price goes up. That’s not a lot of use if production going down was the result of you going out of business.

Dairying has to get more efficient. It has, unfortunately, to do it in the face of opposition from politicians terrified of the nimby crowd. It’s not going to be easy.

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