Should we let dairy farmers be #MilkedDry ?

Should we let dairy farmers be #MilkedDry ?

Milk is massive at the moment.

The state of dairy production in Australia has frothed over into intense public debate, rally cries and heartfelt pleas. From Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggesting a rescue package for struggling farmers, to Dairy Australia encouraging us all to get our dairy on, we can’t escape thinking about those who fill our Milo glasses.

One of the most upfront calls for assistance came from recent Gold Logie winner Waleed Aly. The leading media personality spent seven minutes on Channel 10’s The Project on Tuesday night, outlining what dairy farmers are facing, why they are being paid less, and what we all might do to help them.

“Our farmers are being let down and they’re desperate,” stated Aly. He implored viewers to buy more Australian dairy products, and to support an online proposal to establish a levy to raise funds for farmers.

While it’s highly unusual to hear so much discussion and campaigning for dairy farmers, that’s not the most notable thing.

The most notable thing is how it can make us realise that we spend little time thinking about who is behind what we have.


The shocking truth

There’s a vast and embarrassing gap between what we expect in our fridges and on our tables, and the apparent lack of concern we have for those who produce those things.

Before the milk industry became an enormous news story, did you think much about the farmer responsible for keeping your cereal soggy? Did you care about what farming families can go through, so we can add a splash of milk to our tea or enjoy cheese with our crackers?

I didn’t.

Every industry has its ups and downs, successes and disasters. Farming isn’t special in that regard. But we are so reliant on milk, food and similar “human fuel”, that it’s almost shocking to consider how much we don’t consider those keeping our tanks topped up.


To be or not to be

What the Australian milk crisis suggests to me is that I should take more seriously the clear, crisp words of God’s Word. The book of James in the Bible contains a famous diagnostic about what Christian faith looks like.

How there is a distinct difference between talking about being something, and actually being that something.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17)

Strong words about faith and works (“works” is a broad term for the things we do).

James goes on, acknowledging an obvious objection about what’s been stated about active, engaged Christian faith. “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works.” (James 2:18)

Show me faith without works? Not possible, James indicates. But faith can be seen through works done.

The Australian milk crisis provides me with another opportunity to display my Christian faith by how I respond.

What I do isn’t nearly as important as that I actually do something. Not because my “works” will save me or God will like me more or I’ll earn Jesus’ love by doing stuff. But because my “works” show the faith I claim to have in Jesus Christ.

The faith that calls me to look out for others, more than myself. The faith that calls me to engage, not ignore. The faith that calls me to sort out how I’m going to be as a Christian in all circumstances, including a milk crisis.


Ben McEachen


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