Today is a special day for Free Range Dairy Network as we officially launch the Pasture Promise label. People might try to dismiss Free Range Dairy as small fry or a niche but by doing so they are missing an important point. People are making ethical food buying decisions everyday based on a variety of reasons and to dismiss this market is to do so at your peril.
Although sales of organic food went down in the recession some food proved to be recession proof such as free range eggs, Fairtrade and Marine Stewardship Council certified fish. The rise of the ethical consumer continues to grow and demonstrates it’s not always just about the price when making a purchasing choice as issues such as animal welfare, sustainability and fairness matter to consumers.
A recent report by The Food Ethics Council called Food: All Things Considered, looks at how the increasing pressures on our food systems are becoming ever more visible with droughts, flooding, soil erosion and competition for land.
We as consumers are concerned about the choices we make when it comes to cheap food, especially when around 30% of the food produced in this way ends up in landfill sites.
We wonder what legacy we’ll leave behind for future generations.
When Free Range Dairy Network ran 13 regional meetings across the UK, we heard first hand from farmers how price cuts were driving their business to the wall. We held these meetings from December 2014 through to February 2015 but even now four months later, there is no indication that milk prices are going to improve anytime soon. We also heard from consumers saying they want to pay more for milk to help keep traditional family farms that graze their cows in business. But in the middle of the farmer and the consumer is the supermarket price wars, slashing prices and proud to advertise 4 pints of milk for 89p, well below the cost of production for farmers.
This is why we set up Free Range Dairy Network – to offer a positive and sustainable solution to the dairy crisis. We can show that traditional pasture based dairy farming has an important role in the future of our food production but we need to start paying the real price for this essential food source.
DairyCo released its June 2015 farmer numbers for England and Wales and for the first time the number has fallen below 10,000 farmers. Farmer numbers have almost halved in 10 years and without initiatives like Free Range Dairy that figure will continue to fall. So on behalf of the traditional pasture based dairy farmer that grazes his cows for the six months of year, we call on consumers to support them and buy milk and dairy produce that carries the Free Range Dairy Pasture Promise label.