Compassion's 'milkmen' rode into central London yesterday (1st October) to deliver a petition to DEFRA calling for fair prices for the benefit of Britain's dairy farmers and their cows.
Over 15,000 signatures were handed over asking the government to work with the dairy industry, the Scottish Government and the Northern Irish and Welsh assemblies to guarantee a sustainable future for British farming.
Following the recent crisis in milk pricing, several of the biggest dairy processors including Dairy Crest, Muller-Wiseman and Arla have agreed to improved prices to farmers. However, the NFU has warned that these increases will not even cover increased production costs this winter, and that further increases will be required for farms to remain viable.
Compassion believes that Britain's pasture-based dairy farms have the potential to deliver high standards of welfare, but are concerned that economic forces may push many farmers to abandon these systems, either leaving the sector altogether or moving into highly intensive zero-grazing systems.
Emma Slawinski, senior campaigns manager, Compassion in World Farming, says:
"This is a crucial time for the British dairy industry - recent events have shown how vulnerable many dairy farms are to continued pressure to drive down prices at a time when production costs are increasing.
"We are concerned that if this continues, farmers will feel they are being forced to move to intensive forms of production such as mega dairies and zero grazing.
"This is not the answer for British farmers, or for the cows who can suffer under these systems.
"It is vital that farmers are paid a fair price in order to secure their livelihoods, their role in the stewardship of the countryside and their ability to contribute towards environmentally sustainable farming."
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. A fair product is one that is fair to everyone; that supports the environment and rural communities, and that provides high quality nutritious food produced by dairy cows who experience a good life.