Milkageddon

Churns

The European Milk Quota system ends today.

First introduced in April 1984 under the European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) the Milk Quota has stabilised (or some say stagnated) dairy produce production for 30 years.  This has helped to protect dairy farming incomes, especially for smaller producers.  The measure was to protect the small farmer.

The big dairy companies all over Europe have been gearing up for the explosion in production that is in the offing.  They will be driving sales of dairy products into non-traditional markets.  Have you ever noticed that Chinese and South-Eastern Asian cuisine uses no milk, cream, cheese or butter?  Watch that space!

To win the international game the Irish Dairies need to ramp up production as fast, or faster than their counterparts in countries like Denmark, Poland, UK and France.

In the last year and more, the savvy and efficient Dairy farmer has been gearing up for the end of the quota in a number of ways.

Herd management for instance;  calves are allowed to feed from the cows, production milking is restricted to one milking per day, excess heifers are kept calf-less for longer to keep them dry.  Over quota milk has often ended up in slurry pits.

In the last week every storage container has been filled to bursting point to hold as much production as possible for midnight on 31st March.

In terms of farm management, the larger farmers have been assembling larger dairy platforms accessible to their milking facility, by buying and renting any land adjacent to their parlour.  At the same time they are developing winter feed stocks by acquisition of suitable hay and silage production acreage.

Within the dairy itself they have been investing in new – high intensity – milking equipment.  Automated feeding and milking systems.  Computer databases of the herd, recording age, weight, production, feed regimen, medical history, pedigree, behaviour etc.

The dairy farm of today is a high intensity industrial plant.

It is a long way from the 40 acre mixed farmer who kept a half dozen cows and delivered a couple of churns to the creamery every other day.

But when you have thousands of acres of countryside managed by a handful of industrial farmers, what do you lose?  Community?  Poverty?  A vibrant countryside population?  A low income trap?  Truth is, we will see a lot more cows and a lot less people.  That can make cheap milk a very expensive commodity.

The Sands of Dee: by Charles Kingsley

“O Mary, go and call the cattle home,

And call the cattle home,

And call the cattle home

Across the sands of Dee”;

The western wind was wild and dank with foam,

And all alone went she.

The western tide crept up along the sand,

And o’er and o’er the sand,

And round and round the sand,

As far as eye could see.

The rolling mist came down and hid the land:

And never home came she.

“Oh! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair–

A tress of golden hair,

A drownèd maiden’s hair

Above the nets at sea?

Was never salmon yet that shone so fair

Among the stakes on Dee.”

They rowed her in across the rolling foam,

The cruel crawling foam,

The cruel hungry foam,

To her grave beside the sea:

But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home

Across the sands of Dee.

First impressions

You know the old saying, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!  Dale Carnegie, in his book “How to win friends and influence people” figured we interact with the world in four ways.  What we do.  What we say.  How we say it, and How we dress.

Of these I have no doubt that the most important is what we do.  We are what we do.  Look it up at wearewhatwedo.org if you don’t believe me.  Change the world for a fiver 🙂

My son flew out to Kolkata this week and it is very funny to read the first impressions of a 16 year old upon reaching a third world environment.  Here it is (edited for punctuation).  It took two flights to get there, stopping in Dubai:

I didnt get any sleep on either flight so I’m exhausted now.  Today we did loads.  On the first plane, I sat just a couple of rows behind first class so lots of leftover luxuries (biscuits, drinks etc) were given to me.  Dubai airport was huge but we were only there for an hour.  The next plane was horrible!  It was dirty, the seats were smaller and were really uncomfortable compared to the earlier flight and we couldn’t watch anything we wanted on demand, there were 20 channels with different things on. Calcutta airport was shabby and dirty.  On the flight to Calcutta they had to fumigate the plane during the flight so they sprayed chemicals throughout the plane.  I also had to fill in a card saying what I had to declare ( fish, seeds etc) it was the same as Australia on tv.  The hotel is great and everyone gets their own bed.  Calcutta is much worse than you could imagine.  There are slums next to skyscrapers and half of the city is under construction!  Instead of scaffolding they use bamboo.  Every car is honking its horn all the time and today we saw the aftermath of a car that went up in flames after tonnes of fire burst out of a manhole!!!  We visited a school for young girls whose parents can’t take care of them.  They were very excited and they performed plays, skits and dances for us.  Cows wander through the city and people take no notice of them.  Tomorrow we will be visiting a home for boys and on Sunday will will be given a full tour of Calcutta.  The food isn’t great.  It was nicer on the plane.”

The Cow; by Robert Louis Stephenson

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.