Dairy crisis should be treated as a national emergency
It's just over four months until Christmas. By then, on the eighth day, according to the Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, will there still be "eight maids-a-milking". Or will some of them have been made redundant?
The crisis in the dairy industry in this country, where milk producers are currently paid less per litre for their milk than it costs them to produce, will have an adverse effect on everyone - we will all soon be crying over the spilled milk.
Most farmers specialise, whether they produce milk, beef, or crops. Few tend to diversify, such is the specialised nature of intensive farming these days. But perhaps the specialist farmers have too many eggs in the one basket.
The crisis is, in any case, now urgent and needs to be dealt with straight away by farmers' unions, supermarkets, politicians and consumers. If dairy farmers are put out of business, their milk will become scarcer and more expensive by Christmas.
Most consumers won't mind paying a fair or even premium price to support the dairy farmers, their families, their spending power in the community and their welfare as they work intensively, often seven days a week.
It's penny wise and pound foolish for supermarkets to rip off the farmers now, so that we all have to pay through the nose for our milk later on.
The Government should deal with this critical situation as a national emergency and as a matter of urgency.
What is required, in the words of Winston Churchill, is "action this day" and for the crisis to be nipped in the bud and remedied without any further delay.
NEIL C OLIVER
Newtownards, Co Down