Farming column with Sam Walton

Ear marked cattle  examples of the type which would have eaten potatoes at one time.
Ear marked cattle  examples of the type which would have eaten potatoes at one time.

I mentioned two weeks ago, about livestock having to be earmarked to be recognisable for checks etc.

One lady reader told me that I had not mentioned that at one time potatoes were also marked.

If milk prices do not improve scenes like this will become much rarer.

If milk prices do not improve scenes like this will become much rarer.

I think she was referring to the time when we had a Potato Marketing Board and possibly a quota system where any surplus potatoes were inspected and bags of potatoes had a purple dye put on them.

That meant they were not allowed to be sold for human consumption but had to be fed to either cattle or pigs.

I am sure the odd bag probably found it’s way into the odd household, however, but not on any large scale.

That also reminded me that we used to have a Milk Marketing Board, to whom producers sold their milk and they controlled the price so dairy farmers at least knew what price they were going to get.

I suppose you could say they were in the good old days.

Despite the recent hike in milk prices I am reliably informed that there are some who are still being paid a price under the cost of production.

It beggars belief that milk can be brought into the UK cheaper than we can produce it here.

I do wonder what price some of our retailers have been paying for the imported milk.

Milk is not an easy commodity to move about and it would take longer to fetch it in from Europe and what would that do to the quality of the milk, as it soon goes off?

With the increased production of milk per cow these days here in the UK, there should be no need to import milk.

There are varieties of cheeses which we do not make here so I can understand them coming from abroad.

I am not a political man and have no intention of getting involved in the Brexit debate but as things stand, it would be even more expensive to import and cheaper to export more cheese and milk by-products.

I hope you all gave a thought to the dairy farmer who started to milk his cows at the usual time of 5.30am on Christmas morning and again 12 hours later.

No respite for them in these tough times.