‘S e an duilgheadas gu bheil prìs a’ bhainne fada ro shaor, tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh

Às dèidh prògram a rinn am BBC ron a seo mu droch dhol a-mach air tuathan-bainne, tha fhios gun robh gu leòr a thuathanaich amharasach is iomagaineach mun phrògram aig Panaroma Diluain a chaidh “Beatha na Bà: Cosgais cheart a’ bhainne”.

Le prìs a’ bhainne cho saor ‘s beag an t-iongnadh ged a bhiodh duilgheadasan ann. (Dealbh: BBC Panorama)
Le prìs a’ bhainne cho saor ‘s beag an t-iongnadh ged a bhiodh duilgheadasan ann. (Dealbh: BBC Panorama)

[English-language version below]

Ach, eu-coltach ris a' phrògram a chaidh a dhèanamh beagan bhliadhnaichean air ais, an turas-sa, chaidh oidhirp cothromach a dhèanamh mìneachadh carson a tha an gnìomhachas ann an an uimhir de staing – agus ‘s e firinn na cùise gum bu chòir dha fada barrachd na tuathanaich a bhith mì-chofhurtail mu dheidhinn.

Bha na dealbhan dìomhar anns a’ phrògram bho thac sa Chuimrigh dìreach iargalta agus chan eil leisgeul sam bith airson a bhith ri beathaichean mar a bha iad.

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Chaidh mo thogail-sa air croit agus tha mi a' tuigsinn glè mhath dè tha an lùib a bhith a’ cumail stoc agus chan eil mi gam fhaicinn fhèin bog san t-seadh sin.

Ach, chuir e orm a bhith a’ faicinn laoigh òg air muin a chèile ann am bùcaid an tractair agus iad an uair sin a’ cur a' bhucaid bun os cionn. Sin dìreach mar eisimpleir. Bha barrachd na sin ann cuideachd.

Ach, feumar cuimhneachadh nach ann mar seo a tha a’ mhòr chuid dhen ghnìomhachas ag obrachadh.

Dìreach mar dhreuchd sam bith eile – obair naidheachd no phoileataigs no gu saorsinneach – tha daoine ann a tha ri droch dhol a-mach agus bu chòirear dèiligeadh riutha gun sgleò a chur air càch.

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Rud eile air an do thog am prògram ‘s e a bhith a’ toirt laoigh air falbh bho màthair.

Tha sin a’ tachairt le sprèidh sam bith, agus le caoraich is mucan cuideachd, ach nuair a thig e gu crodh bainne, tha e tachairt ‘s iad air ùr-bhreith, bhon fheumar bainne na màthair a chumail son a reic.

Dh’fheumadh tu eòlaiche ceart airson a ràdh gu bheil a bhith a’ toirt laogh air falbh bho mhàthair aig aois gu math òg càil nas miosa na aig grunn mhìosan a dh’aois, ach chan e sealladh math a tha ann agus bu chòirear coimhead ri dè eile a ghabhas a dhèanamh.

Far am bu chòir don phrògram moladh sònraichte fhaighinn, ‘s ann anns a’ cho-dhùnadh. ‘S e bunait na cùise gu bheil am bainne a tha sinn a’ ceannach fada ro shaor agus ‘s e na bùithtean mòra a tha, aig a’ cheann thall, ri choireachadh airson sin.

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Tha an darna leth dhe na tuathan bainne air a dhol a-mach à bith ann am Breatainn sna deich bliadhna bho dheireadh, ach tha gu leòr a’ bhainne fhathast againn.

Tha na tacan air fàs gu math nas motha airson cosgaisean a gheàrradh agus iarrtas mì-nadarrach a’ dol air a’ bhò fhèin – dìreach ri linn ‘s gum feumar feuchainn ri prìs nam bùithtean mòra a choinneachadh.

A dh’aindeoin atharrachadh anns an t-seòrsa bhiadh a tha sinn ag ithe, tha a’ mhòr chuid fhathast gu bhith ag iarraidh bainne agus le sin, ‘s e a’ cheist: a bheil daoine deònach tòrr a bharrachd a phàigheadh air a shon.

Mas e freagairt na ceiste gu bheil, faodaidh an ghìomhachas coimhead air adhart le dòchais agus faodar na h-ìrean obrach àrdachadh ri linn.

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Air an làimh eile, mas e an fhreagairt nach eil, tha a’ choire airson na tha a’ tachairt anns a’ ghnìomhachas a’ dol gu math nas fhaide na na truaghan a tha a’ feuchainn ri bith-beò a dheanamh às.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

Given the previous efforts by the BBC to shine a light on malpractice in the dairy industry, there were, no doubt, some worried and suspicious minds in the farming fraternity when it came to Panorama’s A Cow's Life: The True Cost of Milk?, broadcast on Monday night.

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However, unlike BBC Scotland’s effort of a couple of years ago, this time there was at least a proper attempt to try and get to grips with why the industry finds itself in such a perilous condition – and the reality is that it should make a lot of more than the farming lobby feel uncomfortable.

The undercover footage from a farm in Wales was truly horrific and there can be no excuse for subjecting animals to unnecessary suffering.

Having been brought up on a croft, I understood all too well the harsh realities of keeping livestock and don’t consider myself too sentimental.

But even I was appalled and at times couldn’t watch. Seeing live calves piled on top of one another in the bucket of the tractor before being tipped into a pen was deeply upsetting, for example.

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However unacceptable as this was, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not representative. Just like any other profession – be it journalism or politics or plumbing – there are those that fall below accepted standards and should be dealt with accordingly, without impinging on those who go about their profession in all together more responsible manner.

The other issue which the programme drew attention to was the practice of “weaning” – taking offspring away from the mother.

Wherever there is livestock this happens, be it cows, sheep or pigs, but in the case of dairy it takes place almost immediately after birth as the milk from the dam needs to be kept for human consumption, with the calves hand-reared on a special powder solution before being sold.

It would take an animal behaviour specialist to determine whether there is any discernible difference in removing the calf from its mother at a very young age or as it starts to grow into adulthood a few months later, but it's a bad image and the industry really needs to look at this again, if only from the point of view of realising that the general public are likely to take a dim view of such matters.

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Where the programme deserves a lot of credit is in its synopsis. The crux of the matter, as they rightly pointed out, is that the milk we buy in the supermarket is far too cheap, often below the cost of production, and it is this aggressive commercial strategy being pursued by the dominant supermarkets that’s ultimately at the root of the problem and driving down standards.

Half of UK dairy farms have gone out of business in the last 10 years, but more milk is being produced. Farms are getting larger and larger as they chase economies of scale; unhealthy demands are being placed on the individual cow – and it’s all because of the need to try and match the price demanded by the retailer.

Despite the growth of veganism, the vast majority of the UK’s population of 67 million will still continue to consume milk and the question is therefore this: Will they be prepared to pay a lot for what they put on their breakfast cereal and in their coffee?

If the answer to that is yes, then the industry can look forward to better times and increased welfare.

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If, on the other hand, it’s a no (which is just as likely) then ultimately responsibility goes far wider than those struggling to maintain a living at the sharp end of the production line.

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