The UK dairy industry is in crisis. Milk prices have been driven down to unsustainable levels. And at the same time farmers are battling rising prices for fuel, feed and energy. Margins have been cut to the point of collapse and many dairy farmers are going out of business.
The newspapers are full of stories of unfair pricing. Farmers are holding rallies, protests and demonstrations. Some even feel forced to threaten extreme measures like dumping their milk. And, today, Defra Minister Jim Paice is hosting a meeting between National Farmers Union representatives and milk processing companies in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
But in all the media coverage, arguments and counter arguments, one important voice is missing. Who is speaking up for the vulnerable dairy cow? She needs your help. Email Jim Paice today to call for urgent reform of milk prices and protection for dairy cows’ welfare.
The dairy cow is the world’s hardest working farm animal
Her situation is perilous. Across Europe she is being driven to higher and higher yields. The higher yielding cow is much more likely to suffer mastitis, lameness and infertility, leading to a shortened life. Cows in many European countries are increasingly kept permanently indoors, unable to express many of their natural behaviours.
Although requiring urgent reform in some areas, the dairy industry in Britain generally has higher welfare than many other countries. Most British cows do get to graze outside for most of the grass growing season, enjoying natural light and having the space to move around as they wish.
But milk prices below the cost of production could place the welfare of our dairy cows at risk. Farmers face stark choices. One ‘solution’ that has been proposed is the further intensification of the UK’s dairy industry. The factory farming of cows is bad for rural livelihoods and will have a negative impact on the environment. But most of all it is bad news for the dairy cow. The real cost of these price wars will fall on her. We must defend her and British dairy farming from being pushed past breaking point.