I RECEIVED a call for help via my email account: “Calling all dairy WAGS we need you!”
Things have got bad here on our farm, really bad. The mood is tense, my husband is working flat out and the bills loom every month. As everyone is very aware the price most of us are paid for our milk is well below the cost of production and has been for some time.
It was not a normal night. I was in a mad rush to get the children to bed because I was off out. But not quite the night of excitement and fun I would have liked.
I arrived at a local farm to sit around a traditional farm table with a group of women in the same situation as myself. The girls were chatty but you could see the worry on every face.
The discussion quickly came round to the job at hand. It was like an episode of ‘The A Team’. We were a crack group of specialists each with our own skills. Our mission: to rescue the dairy industry being held hostage by the world market.
A name for our group was agreed - ‘The Dairy Girls’. We talked about how we wanted to undertake our mission and decided that a policy of peaceful demonstration, teamed with education was the way to go.
There was discussion about whether we would be wasting our time (which I might add has been a comment we have heard a lot) but if you don’t try you can’t win.
Three weeks on and we have taken a heifer and calf to unusual places to raise public awareness of our plight. We are always polite and friendly. Recently we took our children as well as the heifer and calf with us to Redcar beach and received a lot of support.
We found an online petition had already been set up and so we shared, posted and messaged it like crazy with everyone we know and even some we don’t. We shared it with other organisations that are also looking for a solution to this problem.
The petition is currently at over 14,000 signatures. The government has to respond when you get to 10,000. So even if it’s just a government secretary, we have started to get their attention.
If we can get 100,000 signatures it automatically goes to parliament. It seems like an impossible task and we are a small group of women, but every step we take is a step closer to the top of that mountain.
Look what we have achieved in only three weeks. We have posted a petition that had only 25 signatures when we found it and now it has over 14,000, we have been in local newspapers and in Farmers Weekly. On Wednesday we have more newspapers lined up and some television interviews. Just imagine what could be possible if we all teamed together in our local areas, appeared in unusual places, with permission of course, and just asked people to sign the online petition?
So calling all dairy girls - we want you! Take your children, make it a day out, laugh, have fun and talk to the public. If just one person signed the petition and shared it on Facebook, just imagine how many friends they have. How many people can we reach?
All we are asking for is a fair price for our milk.
Claire Summerson is a founding member of The Dairy Girls, a Whitby-based group of dairy farmer’s wives and family members. The group can be found tweeting at @TheDairyGirls