Skip to Content

Spectator Money

How the economics of cow-milking can help explain Brexit

1 August 2017

4:13 PM

1 August 2017

4:13 PM

Writing about judicial appointments, I incautiously compared a silly interview question asking a judge to cite an example of when he had acted with integrity, to asking a farmer, ‘How many times a day do you milk your cows?’ Jamie Blackett, a farmer, writes to say that, in the 21st century, it is a question to which the answer reveals much. He explains. Farmer One milks his 50 cows only once a day. He follows the Norwegian system and makes a marketable green virtue of leaving the calf on the cow. He lives near rich people and sells them his artisan cheese and yoghurt. He voted Remain. Farmer Two milks 120 cows twice a day in the time-honoured way. Even when the price is good he earns less than the minimum wage. He scrapes extra money as a delivery driver. Voted Leave, only because things can get no worse. Farmer Three milks his 1,000 cows three times a day by employing a team of Romanians working in shifts for 20 of each 24 hours. He loses a six-figure sum but thinks he’ll make a profit when the price goes up by a couple of pence a litre. An instinctive Leaver, but voted Remain to keep the Romanians. Farmer Infinity has installed robots, so his 300 cows can get milked whenever they feel like it. They live inside all year. Enjoys his reputation as an innovator, and writes off his farming losses against his other businesses. Voted Leave on principle. None of the four farmers knows whether Out means Out or half In, so none can invest with any confidence. Farmer Zero ‘has sold all his cows and installed a “concrete cow”: an anaerobic digester. His farm now produces electricity rather than food. His vote is opaque.’

<em>Read Charles Moore’s full notes <a href=”https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/07/mother-teresa-was-not-wrong-diana-did-die-at-the-right-time/”>here</a>.</em>


Show comments
Close