Waking up with contracts

Most people who know me can attest to the fact that I am not a morning person. I do get up early but I tend to not talk much and drink a lot of coffee until I can form sentences. Imagine my delight last week when I received an invitation to a breakfast meeting in London from Dairy UK, for the purpose of looking at the government’s proposal to set up fixed price raw milk contracts in the UK.

However, I have never received a word of commiseration from any farmers I have met over the years in this job, and I didn’t get any last Friday either. They get up silly early every morning because that’s when the cows get up, and I for one am quite grateful that they do. I sometimes wonder who would be a farmer, as it offers long hours, low pay and nobody seems to care that you work hard to put on their table and take care of the environment at the same time, but I do appreciate their efforts.

Representatives and farmers from several major co-operatives and plcs were at the meeting to put their point across about how retrograde the government’s stance is on this matter, along with members of the B2B press. The whole idea seems to be something out the playbook from half a decade ago, when in fact the industry has moved on and figured out ways to alleviate price volatility for farmers and processors without too much grief, through price hedging and deals with buyers. It’s not a perfect solution but it is being worked on by the sector.

At any rate, the actual specifics of the deal are yet to be laid bare, and as the government’s entire focus remains solidly on Brexit and its implications (another show I never want to watch but always seems to be on every channel in the UK, like Friends on E4), I doubt we will see much flesh on the matter in the coming weeks, if not months. Stay tuned for the next round of we, the government, which knows nothing much about agriculture, tries to make policy for the sector. I do wonder when the farmers will take their own turn and start devising policies for politicians, without knowing much of what they do and how they go about it. It’s only fair.

In the meantime, I am getting another cup of coffee.

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