The French are supposed to be Cartesian. I’d like to see some proof. Today there were two announcements on the news that bewildered and angered me. Farmers are going to be allowed to mow their set-aside fields to help with the penury of hay to feed livestock. My logic says that means we have too many cows to feed without putting the whole notion of set-aside, one of the few ecological measures applied, in jeopardy. Then, in practically the same breath, the farmer’s representative triumphs that the new international agreements mean French farmers are going to find it easier to get rid of surplus milk production by exporting to South America.
I might be missing some crucial point of economic theory here, but the facts are 1) the demand for milk has decreased, yet 2) milk production has increased, because 3) dairy farmers complain they are not being paid enough per litre, hence 4) the milk surplus is increasing and we are having to mow all the fragile wild animal habitat to feed the cow population.
Not being French I can only use my own variety of logic, but it screams at me, if the French population is stuffed to the gunnels with dairy produce and can’t take any more, why the feck don’t the farmers produce less, give the poor overworked cows a break, keep fewer of them because they cause more CO2 pollution than the road network, and charge more for the milk? Why is the prevailing logic still, produce more, earn more, and if the local population won’t drink it, we’ll sell it to South America? Don’t they have cows in South America?
The whole business stinks of exploitation and cruelty. Food surpluses mean that we are producing too much of the wrong things. Cattle feed takes acreage away from human feed. It’s uneconomical in terms of protein per acre and it’s polluting. And that’s not even taking into account the awful cruelty of it. Five thousand animals killed every TEN SECONDS in France for human consumption. Maybe the end of the world isn’t such a bad idea.
What price my freedom,
to walk in peace where the only sound
is the wind in the leaves and sleepy bird-voices,
to keep the town at bay, the pesticides away,
to smell the scents of mown hay
when there is no light in the sky to distract?
To consume little, waste nothing
and leave the wildflowers standing until winter comes,
to feed the birds, keep away the men with guns,
plant hedges and bask in their singing, their flower scent,
seems the righteous course.
The price is still for most the sprawling town,
the concrete hell of commercial zones and spaghetti roads,
and plastic packages for things already plastic-wrapped
and put in plastic bags that fill the wounds
in scarred and dying landscapes.
The price is still the wail of imprisoned calves,
calling for their mothers
and the moaning of mothers for their lost children.