Foot and mouth, a deeply depressed farming economy, foot and mouth again (courtesy of an act of Government incompetence of a magnitude which even this nincompoop government might struggle ever to match) and then bluetongue, the disasters arrive one by one to prostrate an industry which is vital to the well-being of the rural economy.
Not content with negligently allowing the F&MD virus to escape from laboratories for whose biosecurity they are ultimately responsible (and, indeed, directly responsible in terms of funding and supervision), now DEFRA has been found to be plotting further butchery of the industry. At the same time they will, by Government Diktat, force us to give up the consumption of fresh milk in favour of UHT milk.

The rationale behind this idea is in part because UHT Milk can be stored for ever and a day in an supermarket warehouse rather than in chillers and large fridges. We too can store milk for ages in our pantries. This will reduce our electricity consumption and thereby our carbon foot print.

But at what price? And is this just another loony scheme that is designed to deflect attention from the government’s failure adequately to address the production of electricity in large enough quantities from non-carbon producing sources?

As might be imagined the dairy industry is already up in arms at this proposal. In amongst the detail is the proposal that methane emissions from dairy cattle should be reduced by 60% within 15 to 20 years. Cows, as any fool knows, eat grass and thereby suffer from a degree of flatulence that puts any human firmly in the shade when it comes to the methane production stakes. Reducing methane output by 60% means, in crude terms, reducing the dairy herd by 60% within a generation. Effectively the dairy farmer is to be effaced from the land.

No wonder they are angry, so much so that they are now wondering aloud that the Government has a covert plan to do just that. After all, the less cows there are, the less can catch F&MD the next time they let it loose from Pirbright and the less money has to be diverted from yet more Gender Awareness Officers. And this will be a good chance to get rid of some of those red-faced Poujadist farmers who supported the fuel blockades and so upset Blair and Brown in the regime’s early years.

Yet again invidious comparisons are made with our continental neighbours whose milk consumption, in part because of very different climatic conditions, is overwhelmingly of UHT milk. Belgium, France. Portugal and Spain, all have a consumption rate of UHT Milk of more than 90%. So what? Why must we always slavishly follow what is done elsewhere?

One might also enquire: at what and whose expense this will all happen? A whole new processing industry will have to be created (our present consumption of UHT milk is now less than 9% of the total) and all those forcibly ejected from farming will have to be compensated. For
those graciously permitted by the DEFRA tyranny to continue producing milk a whole new system of milk production will have to be put in place, involving, so one particularly irate dairy expert I listened to this morning said, keeping most cattle indoors all year round with all the animal health and welfare issues that that implies. Will this be economical, given the brute power of the supermarkets who have forced the price of milk down and down over recent years in their ceaseless quest for profit?

And have you ever tasted the damned stuff? No wonder the British consume as little as they do, for UHT is truly a vile experience for anyone who takes any sort of pleasure in how food tastes.

But what infuriates me so much is that some Jobsworth Minicrat should sit there and plan to force people out of livelihoods the skills of which they have take a lifetime to learn and to force us to drink something that we do not, as the market presently indicates, wish to drink.

It is greatly to be hoped that this one is strangled at birth lest it to be subjected to the righteous indignation of the people.

The Times has a report on the matter here.