Out of the dairy crisis comes a good news story for farmers, cows and consumers. The Free Range Dairy Pasture Promise label will make it easier for consumers to make an informed choice when buying their daily pint of milk and support farmers by paying a fair price for keeping their cows in fields.
Persistent global market volatility and supermarket price wars have reduced the price farmers receive for their milk by over 30% in the last twelve months. This is driving traditional family farms out of business, as milk becomes little more than a cheap commodity produced from increasingly intensive farming systems. But now, a nationwide network of farmers is seizing the initiative to build a new ethical milk brand that commits to keeping their cows in fields for at least six months of the year.
Independent market research, carried out by Promar International for Free Range Dairy Network, shows consumers want milk from a farming system that supports local farmers and comes from cows that have grazed for at least six months of the year. The Free Range Dairy Pasture Promise label will guarantee that assurance.
At present milk from traditional pasture-based farms is mixed together with that from herds where the cows never go outdoors, in a supply chain preoccupied with the logistics of delivering cheap commodity milk to the market. But thanks to collaboration connecting farmers with local milk processors, Free Range Dairy Network will ensure a dedicated milk collection from farms and guarantee Pasture Promise milk is processed and bottled separately from intensive farmed milk.
Quote: Dairy farmer Neil Darwent, Co-Director Free Range Dairy Network
“In today’s marketplace there is currently little alternative for dairy farmers other than the relentless pursuit of higher milk volumes, delivered from increasingly intensive methods. But, we want to offer farmers a vision of the future founded on value rather than volume. By labelling milk and dairy products with the Pasture Promise label we can define the value in their milk from traditional, seasonally grazed dairy herds and farming system.”
The Free Range Dairy Network aims to match local farmers with local communities via smaller independent processors as a way to ensure that the money supporting farmers goes back into their communities.
Quote: Carol Lever Co-Director Free Range Dairy Network
“Most consumers see pictures of cows grazing in fields when they buy milk and believe the milk they are buying has come from those cows. Whether you support intensive systems or not, at present because all the milk is mixed together you have no choice but to buy milk from those farms. The Free Range Dairy Pasture Promise label is a way for consumers to choose what type of farming system they want to support, safe in the knowledge this is helping keep pasture based farmers in business and cows in fields.”