The hills may no longer be alive with the sound of groovy cows, if the Swiss Agriculture Ministry means business. Piqued by the fact that quite a number of farmers are not abiding by European Union norms operational since March 2005 prohibiting the use of hemp as cattle fodder, the authorities have threatened to now crack down. As all those competent in Latin know, hemp belongs to the cannabis sativa family, and thus is a kissing cousin of marijuana, hashish and other dodgy delectables.
It turns out that in the Alpine countries of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, cattle farmers have been using hemp fodder for years now to make them produce more and better milk. The logic provided by one farmer is incontestable: “Many of the cows are stressed nowadays. If they eat hemp, they calm down. Now, a milk cow which is calm produces better milk. That is a fact.” Unfortunately, EU mandarins udderly clueless about dairy or farming matters don’t want hemp in European cows. Although there has been no clear evidence that tetrahyrdocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound in cannabis responsible for making cows relaxed and Bob Dylan stoned, can be passed on through cattle meat, traces of THC have been found to filter through to the milk and dairy products of cows fed on hemp. And the authorities are not keen on Swiss chocs and Gruyere cheese becoming the latest substitute for a good roll of Manali.
So as Europe’s cows are kept off the grass, we here in India may just have found a quicker way to produce bhang in the coming Holi season. This could be better than any fodder scam.