Check-list before banning cow slaughter: Improve milk revenues, provide sufficient grazing lands and fodder, structure the dairy industry horizontally, ensure healthy upkeep at cows end of life.
The return of the cow slaughter debate has so many unanswered questions, that as an amateur recent farmer (comparatively affluent) am not sure if the pros outweigh the cons or are we (speaking on behalf of a regular livestock farmer) being dragged into a political battle again.
Let me elucidate, with rains getting more and more erratic, chemical contaminated lands demanding more and more water, the farmer is left with a few choices, supplement income with livestock. Livestock includes goats, sheep, poultry and cows and buffaloes. The so-called dairy cooperatives are government run and even they are out to fleece the farmer. In Karnataka, they get only Rs 22 per litre with an added Rs 4 subsidy for full cream fresh milk, which retails at Rs 40! With grazing lands being gobbled up in the name of insane development and greed, rains diminishing, what will the farmer feed his livestock? Yes, feed is available at government-run stores at an average price of Rs 1000 for a 50 kg sack…Remember these are cows and they need large quantities!
The farmer is getting cornered from both sides, milk sale price low, feed priced high…What other choice does he have to run his operation ruthlessly? Meaning, sell the old non-milk producing cows, sell the male calves (thanks to development again, we have replaced their need by mechanised machines) and at least keep the worthwhile ones pregnant continuously to milk her dry while possible. How many of us know that cows have a pregnancy gestation period of nine months and a milk availability for 6 months, of course, pumped with antibiotics and steroids…That can be extended by a few!
My question to the virtuous preachers like Subramaniam Swamy and the Sangh and the urban noisy voice activists…Which of the above-listed concerns do you address before banning cow slaughter? Improve milk revenues, provide sufficient grazing lands and fodder, structure the dairy industry horizontally so manure etc can be valued or allow the contamination of the cow and her milk for your cups of tea!
Like all creatures in the animal kingdom and in nature, balance is vital. Balance in numbers and balance in quality. If we assume the cow to bull ratio to be 50:50, what is the solution when the bull has no “use” for a farmer who is just about getting by feeding his revenue generating cows? Think wholistic, think practical, think inclusive! Put your vote crap aside and listen to the crying farmer…Or would you rather he left his profession and moved to the city? Ooops then what happens to your cup of milk or bowl of yoghurt? What will you eat your oats or Kellogg’s with? No more milk shakes and ice cream…Give them a fair hearing and then preach…Don’t sound like you care by raising your voice, dig deep and don’t make this a religious issue! If cows are sacred so should the ant be…Compassion the all encompassing word need deeper meaning!
Arati Venkat and her husband Naved Ahmad are amateur farmers after giving up their professional careers and run a gourmet farm bistro called ‘Earth Kitchen’ a little outside Bangalore where they live with their 5 dogs.