‘Massive amount of work involved in milk production’

January 13, 2015


Dennis Jones

HARD GRAFT: Dennis Jones, who still works as a beef farmer, but gave up dairying shortly after taking the family farm from his parents as he saw no future in it. A working day will include two periods of milking at dawn and dusk/early evening; feeding the herd and making hay and silage, and many more jobs to do besides.



A SOMERSET farmer has been explaining in detail why he and his colleagues are blocking supermarket distribution centres in their battle to highlight the low prices they are receiving for milk and other products.

The following interview I have transcribed is from a video by Matt Jones, a media student, called ‘Are they Milking It? The Truth behind Milk Production and I would like to take this opportunity for thanking Matt for putting it together.’

As Farmers For Action chairman David Handley says from a recent news item about low milk production the future is unsustainable: “We are being asked to produce milk below the cost of production – it cannot be done.”

Dennis Jones of North Somerset spoke of why he went out of dairy production in the 1990s and gives an outside perspective of the colleagues who are facing the elements.

Dennis left school at 16 and joined his parents on their farm milking a herd of sixty cows. He took over the family dairy farm some years before his parents died in the 1990s.

He gives a brief glimpse into the working day of a dairy farm and says a lot of the public may not be aware of the physical involved into supplying fresh liquid milk; collected, pasteurised and distributed so that we can have it in our tea, coffee or hot chocolate or with our porridge and cornflakes.

Dennis said: “Soon after that I realised there was no future in dairy farming for me. We were getting around 16p per litre. Our milking parlour was wearing out. We needed to invest a serious amount of money.

“With the milk situation, it is exactly the same as our beef price, it is just not good enough.

“Why are the supermarkets selling food so cheaply? Currently the dairy farmers are receiving around 27p/28p per litre for their milk.

“When we compare that with bottled water, coca cola or fruit juice or beer, look at the work that goes into producing those products as opposed to milk. Milk farmers get up at 4.30am in the morning, milk their cows for two hours; then they have to feed them and do lots of other things like making their silage or hay.

“Then after a hard day’s work at the end of the day they have to milk their cows again. They might not get in until 6.30pm. They have to do that 365 days a year. It is a massive amount of work that goes into milk production and this is the dirty end of the system.

“If was a dairy farmer now, I would end up throwing the milk away for two days. If dairy farmers did that, it would cause mayhem. There are 65 million people in this country and they all need milk tomorrow.

Dennis says the main finger of blame must be pointed at the supermarkets after Matt asked him who he thought was to blame for the low prices.

“I blame the supermarket every single time. It is nothing to do with the distributor – they take off the farm and pasteurize it and then they send it to the supermarket through a contract and they make a profit. It is the supermarket selling the end product and when you have got supermarket chains like Iceland selling four pints of milk for 89p. it is getting ridiculous.”

Farmers For Action protesters usually protest at supermarket distribution centres for up to five hours and create a queue of 150 articulated lorries so they can’t get in or out and they liaise with the police before they take any action and it causes a lot of disruption at the distribution centre.

“This is the only way we can get the message across to the greedy supermarkets.”



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