Milk of Economic Kindness. 1930’s Style.

We are reassured that while our present economic problems might be bad, they do not amount to a ‘depression’, let alone a Great Depression.
British milk farmers may beg to differ. They might say they are facing exactly the same economic realities their forebears did in the Great Depression. Most notably in the Wisconsin Milk Strike of 1933, which was crushed in the usual American gangster fashion, and which turned many farmers into what we now call terrorists.

British farmers were threatening the same action earlier this month.
Thousands of litres of milk could be poured down the drain this summer in protest at deep cuts to the price paid to farmers’.
It’s true that in response, some retail outlets have thrown the farmers some scraps, but they are not going to change the reality, which is that modern economics, like its 1930’s ancestor, demands to be given whatever it wants, when it wants, at the price it wants, delivering as much profit as possible now! Which in employment terms means absolute ‘flexibility of contract’ and total ‘labour mobility’. Or in other words, do the job we tell you, or get on your bike. Not easy for a farmer, tied to seasons, the land, and their dumb animals,  to comply with. But that’s their stupid fault for being farmers, according to the market. For making themselves captive suppliers, with little more economic freedom than any of their cattle.
The reasons for the farmers’ absurd situation is no mystery in a world in which petrol is cheaper than both milk and bottled water. The only mystery is the collective historical amnesia of the establishment in denying the true depths of the problem, and its real cause, which now as in 1933 is the power of monopolistic profit-based corporate capitalism.
After a long and bitter struggle to survive, many farmers in America had only one choice in the 1930’s, which was to pack up and sing, ‘So long, it’s been good to know ya. ‘
Hopefully, today’s farmers can come up with a more constructive, co-operative solution to their problems. Maybe they can use some of their celebrated ‘custodianship’ skills to show the rest of us the way forward, instead of merely using them to shout
‘Get off my land.’

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