The recent focus on UK milk prices has put a fresh spotlight on an old problem.
We have shaped our agriculture over decades through the way we shop, the way we buy and the way we make laws. Modern dairying is going down a path that we ourselves have made for it and the result is a system that fails farmers, communities, animals and the environment.
Dairy farmers have either to run ever faster, or lose their farms. Dairy cows are increasingly kept indoors where they are pushed beyond their limits, producing more and suffering ill-health in the process. As dairy farms' size increases, so does their ability to pollute, consume the world's precious grain stocks, and damage our countryside.
Compassion believes that dairy farming in the UK, and indeed throughout the world, deserves a food and farming system that gives farmers a fair price - for a fair product. And a fair product is one that is fair to us all; that supports our environment and our rural communities, that provides us with high quality nutritious food and our dairy cows with a good life.
Reform is clearly needed, and it provides us the opportunity to make farming work for people, for animals and for the planet. It's an opportunity we would be fools to waste.
Our ask is a fair price for a fair product.
What can be done to encourage humane sustainable dairy farming?
- Government can provide appropriate mediation and/or ombudsman services to ensure that the interests of farmers and society are given full regard in setting the price structure for a fair price for a fair product.
- Government and industry can work together to provide a statutory guarantee for farm gate milk prices that allows farmers a sustainable price that includes a living wage, room for investment in the business and delivery of good dairy cow welfare.
- The EU can agree legal standards for dairy welfare.
- The EU can also provide mandatory labelling for animal products, by method of production.
- Industry can consider premium payments for high welfare systems and good welfare outcomes.
- Government can ensure that tax and other fiscal measures make farmers pay production's hidden costs to the environment, while rewarding moves to humane-sustainable agriculture.
- All groups can raise consumer awareness of food and farming, with particular reference to livestock production.
Compassion lobbies both the UK and EU Governments to achieve a fairer farming system for all. We also engage directly with the food industry to improve the welfare of animals throughout the supply chain.