Adding a milk pack to the caddy at the supermarket is very easy, but what does it take to produce that milk? What's it like for a small producer to manage a farm with 40-50 cows?
After the demonstration of milk producers in Brussels, I was quite shocked when realising that people who work to produce our daily food don't even get a decent revenue for their work. So I decided to follow a producer during one day to get a glimpse of how it really works.
Somewhere in the East Cantons of Belgium in July, Erwin gathers his cows. He's among the last producers to leave his cows in the grasslands and to do the milking there during summer time.
The price of the milk is so low that Erwin only does one milking per day instead of two.
It's a bit chilly this morning but the sun will soon transform it to a hot summer day.
The day before my visit, the European Commissions announced an additional aid of 500 millions euros for milk producers. But milk producers don't want that money. They're asking for structural solutions to solve the problems related to overproduction in Europe. Until now their request to restore production quotas remains ignored.
Milking the 40 cows takes two hours. After that Erwin goes back to the farm to store the milk, feed the calves and take a short break at home.
He's a member of Fairebel (Die Faire Milch in German) which guarantees fair prices for the producer and works on a long term vision on agriculture.
His son is a butcher and they want to open a farm's butcher shop. Erwin has started breeding a different species of cows for the meat.
It's hot and sunny, perfect weather for haying and prepare the winter. Erwin will spend the rest of the day going from one grassland to another to hay.
One of his tractor broke down the day before and he hired another farmer from the area to help out with the haying.
MIG stands for "Milcherzeuger Interessengemeinschaft": Milk producer interests.
"Without farmers no future"
Some hay bales are already done. Erwin stores the bales in the barn for the winter.
Leica M240 & 35mm lens.
Panoramic shots taken with Hasselblad XPan & Tri-X film.