Public can find it hard to sympathise with farmers

Cows graze in a field before being  milked. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Cows graze in a field before being milked. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

There is an old, some would say unkind, saying which goes along the lines: “You never see a farmer on a bike.”

It is usually trotted out by those angered at frequent tales of woe from members of our agricultural community.

Blaise Tapp

Blaise Tapp

The trouble is lots of folk have as much difficulty sympathising with our nation’s farmers as they do with City Bankers. To many, the pleas of poverty and hard times is difficult to reconcile with magnificent homes and gas guzzling 4x4s. Of course, this isn’t the reality for the majority but perception is everything and in the court of public opinion farmers often to struggle to attract much support.

In a different lifetime I enjoyed a happy two-and-a-half years living in the bleating heart of rural middle England a place where I was woken every morning by the local cockerel and went about my daily business with a vague feeling I would bump into Christopher Timothy at any moment.

I became good friends with those who worked the land and developed something approaching an understanding of what it takes to put food on our dinner tables.

But, despite this brief dalliance with life down on the farm, I find it very difficult to see a way out of the latest crisis to affect our farming industry - the price of milk.

Most dairy specialists are now being paid an average of less than 24p a pint of the white stuff, compared to the 30p they say it costs them to produce it. The amount paid to dairy farmers has slumped by 10 per cent in 2015 alone and there is no sign of this figure improving any time soon.

At a time when the provenance of food is perhaps as important to consumers as it ever has been it seems cow juice is one of the few things we are willing to skimp on. There aren’t many major chains where you cannot pick up four pints of milk for a quid or less.

Personally, I am proud to say I shop local and enjoy discovering local delicacies as much as the next gourmand but would I pay more for my pint of milk? I very much doubt it.