BBC regional news programme, Inside Out (East), re-examined the future of the UK dairy industry. Speaking to the programme, economist Sean Rickard says “Bigger units are the future. They can compete. All smaller units can look forward to is greater pressure until they are forced to give up.” However, Mr Rickard’s claims are rejected by the Strachan family who run Marybelle Dairy. The family sell 4 million litres of milk from their own herd and six local farms as fresh milk, cream, yoghurt and ice cream. You can find out more at the Marybelle Dairy website.

I believe that smaller dairy farms have a lot to look forward to. But, they cannot sit back and wait for divine intervention to deliver them to a higher place. Farmers must work to win the hearts and minds of consumers, stop the erosion in the value of their milk and build a brighter future. You don’t have to be an economist to understand that simple milk production systems, run on a relatively small scale, are efficient. They might not be as efficient at creating fat profits for the middle men who rule our industry, but small herds turning grass into milk utilise the resources nature has provided in the locality, the skills that farmers have learned and, in return deliver high quality milk.

Super dairies, mega dairies, call them what you will, will only be the future if we sit back and allow retailers and processors to determine how milk is produced in this country. The recently deceased General Norman Schwarzkopf (Stormin’ Norman) was asked in an interview what the difference was between involvement and commitment. He said “think of a bacon and egg breakfast – the hen is involved but the pig is committed”. You are committed to your cows on a daily basis, so be committed to securing the future of your farm – join Free Range Dairy.

You can see the BBC Inside Out programme in full by following this link…

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