If you're not a regular listener to either Farming Today (5.45) or the Archers (19.05) it may be that the Milk Crisis is passing you by. Europe has a new milk lake, and as a consequence dairy farmers are selling milk for less than the price of bottled water; in Brussels yesterday they poured milk on the cobbles as the EMB called for a 25% reduction in production. UK dairy farmers heap the blame on the supermarkets, but it's actually a combination of vampire buying by Tesco and the rest, and overproduction. Not helped by the development of a vile process by Aria under the Cravendale brand by which the sour taste of rancid milk fat is disguised by mechanically reducing the size of the fat particles in suspension; Cravendale milk goes sour just as quickly as the rest, only you can't taste it.
The Archers is storylining the rise of US-style cow battery farms in Europe; huge artificially lit sheds filled with rows of Fresians (called Holsteins in the US) with vast udders all restrained from moving about and wasting food input energy on anything but making milk, fooled into thinking it's permanent Summer, the product no doubt advertised with video of happy cows skipping across flower-decked meadows.
If you've never drunk raw milk still hot from the udder, you will have no idea what cows' milk actually tastes like. Even light pasteurising kills the taste, let alone the outrage of the ten day-old rotten rancid Fresian body-fluid sold by the supermarkets. When on morning milking duty after a heavy night out I'd quaff a whole quart as soon as it was out of the teats - a sovereign remedy for a hangover. And the taste of milk is breed, breed and breed - Fresians producing the most tasteless, bland, characterless milk you can imagine.
Give me our old Suffolk Red Poll any day; much lower yields, but the creature will live outside all year (if you give her a little winter shelter) and graze unless the grass is under a foot of snow. Suited to crop marshes and sandlings, she makes milk that makes cheese of superlative quality, bears calves good for meat or milk, she dungs the ground as she goes, and is as pliable and as good natured a beast as man would wish to have.