Further cuts to the price of milk expected to occur on August 1st has had a cascade of effects in the UK. The pressure from activists and protestors seems to be working. Mostly recently, the massive supermarket entity Asda agreed to give a “winter feed supplement” to farmers, at least until next year. Other milk processors may follow suit on the way towards a sustainable price for local dairy farmers.
Farmers have, in particular, been making a loss on the milk that is used to create products like cheese and butter; further cuts risk harming 27% of producers and 25% of the milk market volume. One of the UK’s leading producers, Stephen Britten at Arla, said of his plant in Leeds, “We can’t go on any longer.”
Last week, hundreds of farmers blockaded milk processing plants with their tractors. Farmers for Action threatened that their members may not put their milk on the market. There was even talk of pouring milk into the streets. At least one dairy farmer took a different approach.
Simon McCreery, a dairy farmer from East Lothian, made a “secret milk round” with NFU president Nigel Miller. Together they delivered milk from McCreery’s cows to 300 homes in Edinburgh last Friday on July 20th.
After the “secret milk round” McCreery is being called “the dairy godmother.” McCreery’s actions actually speak louder than his charming new moniker: those deliveries in Edinburgh were even nobler than charity, and McCreery exemplifies something more human than the supernatural help that saves Sleeping Beauty—gratitude. That, say the milk advocates, was the point of delivering all those pints of milk; to say thank you to the Scottish consumer on behalf of their local dairy farms.
There is, perhaps, no greater cohesive force than gratitude. It is there at work within all the other more conventional virtues; it is the sentiment that endows each with creative potency and steadfast possibilities. Perhaps more focus on gratitude is what is missing from so many social movements.
Paul M. Capobianco