I live in good dairy country, and in Australia, that’s a little unusual. Sure there’s a lot of milk produced in other parts of Australia, but there’s a reason that this region of the south coast took to dairying so soon after white settlement; Sunshine, rain and fat green grass. The milk produced in this region is some of the best milk you can get, primarily because it comes from cows that eat nutritious grass that requires fewer growth stimulants than pasture other more marginal parts of Australia.
Recently I’ve been doing a little research into dairy farming in our region. It’s led me to some fascinating revelations about the wide variations in the quality of milk that ends up on the supermarket shelves.
Which brings me to Coles. Yesterday Coles, the supermarket brand responsible for kicking off the “dollar milk wars” two years ago, released an exculpatory youtube video, cutely explaining how it’s the farmers’ big cuddly friend. Broadly they claim (although not explicitly in the video) that the price pressure on Australian milk producers is largely due to a high overseas dollar, as only 25% of milk produced in this country is consumed domestically.
It’s perhaps one of the better examples of spin I’ve seen. The Australian drinking milk market is, despite controversial rulings by the ACCC, fundamentally anti-competitive. Farmers who previously produced what’s known as tier one (yummy) milk for drinking instead of tier two milk (for washing your car) have not been exposed to the export market, except through the prices offered to them by their processors, who are. The Coles video claims that it is presenting the average prices, which is also true. It doesn’t therefore acknowledge regional issues of scale that position farmers in vulnerable bargaining position. The regional issues are the crux.
I’m not a farmer so I can freely tell you that the tactics undertaken to silence farmers, including threats and gag orders from buyers, are obscene.
I’ve realised that the recent pricing contracts are a serious threat to the entire industry in this region. For a region that’s been ‘growing milk’ for 150 years it’s going to be a big change.
Life is punctuated by moments of extreme clarity, when the mysteries of man and nature are held transparent to one another. For instance, today I realised that I am categorically, tragically old.
“You know, Ed, when I was a little girl I had a paper run. Two in fact. And everyone who had a paper run wanted to get promoted to the really cool job which was selling the Evening Post at the end of Lambton Quay where kids would shout ‘Paaaaay-eeeeee-PERRRRRR! into a silencing southerly.”
Statements such as these are met with a derisive stare that at once betrays disdain and complete bafflement as the kid tries to imagine a cityscape where adults exist in a grainy black-and-white tableau of trolley buses, note books and stumbling gout and children blow on their cold fingers, blackened with newsprint.
Rumour has it that the Obeid family are appealing to the producer’s of the ABC’s Rake for the use of their intellectual property. Is this now the best show in town?
Is the pinnacle of modernity being awoken at half past three in the morning by the dogged hammering of the air compressor? I think we need a rooster.
In other news, I’ve recently fallen rather hard for instagram. I know it’s tres uncool to display even the meerest affection for a social networking site, because you know, every one of those billion people on facebook is like totally hating on it right now. Thing is, instagram kind of fills a gap for me.
Funnily enough I’m not interested in the kind of banal witticisms that perfectly encapsulate lives that are punctuated with really good coffees and amaaaazing yoga. Twitter is out and although I’ve not given up facebook, I’ve definitely wandered away in a daze of ennui.
It turns out that I actually hear more than enough human chatter as it is. Instagram, or at least the users I follow, tacitly privileges non-verbal, which includes the best parts of life. After all, as the old saying goes, life’s better with macrozamias. Also, it encourages people to look and find beautiful things right in front of their noses. This can’t be a bad thing.
If you want to stalk me, my user name is kinawera.
I’m getting into instagram. My name is kinawera if you want to stare into your phone like a teenager.
Like many wittering bores I’m partial to a bit of arts and culture. Foremost on my radar is the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition currently on at the NGA. Canberra is, however, a long way away, a commitment made even harder by the smorgasbord of high culture unfolding at my fingertips. To wit: Dog jumping at the show.