A consultant once told me: “My services can be described as cheap, good and quick but you can only have two of the three at once.”
When it comes to milk, the choices are: cheap, good and ethical. Under the umbrella of “ethical” comes animal wellbeing, the environment and the welfare of farming families.
I don’t have any input on which pair wins out – you and the thousands of others who drink our milk or eat our cheese do. At the moment, with prices falling and consumers celebrating milk that’s cheaper than water, it seems “ethical” is the loser.
As someone who farms because she loves the land and her animals, this is very, very sad news. Currently, it is my family that is missing out rather than land or animal. Eventually though, we won’t be able to carry the burden and we will be the ones facing three choices:
1. Find a way to fund niche value adding for ethical products;
2. Industrialise our farming practices and see a fall in animal wellbeing and environmental outcomes; or
3. Leave farming.
Only time will tell.
With this in mind, it was interesting to read this comment in response to Lynne Strong’s point that consumers have a role to play in animal welfare standards following a story on The Conversation:
“Is it the case that, in buying a $5.00, 2L carton of milk in Australia, I can be assured that the product was sourced more ethically than the $2 Coles brand?”
Of course not but you can be sure that by purchasing unsustainably priced milk, you will be putting pressure on ethical standards right across the country.