Worth and Value part 1

There has been a lot in UK news recently about the cost of milk, you might have heard about it but then its in the news every so often. The difference is that this time it was heard more clearly.

As a side note… I think the farmer who decided to walk his cow through the supermarket in protest deserves a medal.

I know I’ll get my figures terribly wrong (I’m writing in a cafe with no internet access so can’t check) but lets say it costs the UK farmer 30p to make a pint of milk. The big supermarkets have been paying the farmers 20p per pint, meaning the farmer has been steadiliy losing money. The supermarket then charges us, the end customer, 70p per pint.

I first heard about this some time ago when the situation had become so desperate for a few dairy farmers that they had taken their own lives.

“The farmers should demand more money” I hear you say, but that’s easier said than done, it’s just too easy for the supermarket to import milk from abroad. Then where would the farmers be?

If we value our locally sourced milk we must act. I’m not much of a milk user, when I buy milk I buy cravendale because my milk usage is so little that it’s the only milk that doesn’t go off before I’ve used it. But to imagine not having milk in the fridge… well, it’s just not heard of. I hope my milk has been paid for fairly and I hope it’s from a british farm. I’d just hate thinking I wasn’t drinking British milk. I really need to check that out.

I recently saw a poster about the milk situation that really made me think.

It showed three drinks of similar size, a pint of milk, a bottle of water and a bottle of coke. Underneath each item was the average cost, Milk 60p, water £1.20, Coke £2. That touched home for me. I’ve never thought about it, but when compaired to water or fizzy drinks, milk is undercharged. I’m not saying water and coke are overcharged, I’ve been paying those prices without complaint for years, I’m saying milk is undercharged.

One supermarket has come to the rescue by bringing out a new milk alongside it’s existing product. A support the farmer milk which costs 10p more, with that 10p going to the farmer. But this support the farmer milk is only going to cover costs and I suspect standing besides it’s rip off the farmer milk it won’t sell as much, giving the supermarket a reason to stop the product for lack of interest. I expect they’ll try and tell us the public won’t pay the extra 10p

If the support the farmer idea is simply to cover their costs it’s not being very supportive.

I gripe about UK fair trade quite a bit. As a crafter I know what it feels like to be underpaid and undervalued for work. I know the feeling of having a potential customer take a photo of a knitted item and tell me they will get their gran to make them one for free.

I belong to a church that tells us to buy the more expensive fair trade coffee to support overseas farmers, yet hold craft fairs flogging hard-hand-made crafts for a couple of quid. I think it’s about time the fair trade logo included UK products. I’ve more to say on this, but I’m late for a lecture.

Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

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