Free Range Dairy already has members who represent a diverse range of milk producers of different size and scale. Some are on enviable contracts with major retailers, some are co-op members and some really don’t know where their milk ends up. But, they all have one thing in common – they all want consumers to understand the value that lies in the way they farm and the milk they produce. I cannot thank these individuals enough. They have been prepared to invest something of themselves in building a better future for British dairy. Many farmers are understandably value the fact that they have a secure contract in place for their milk right now and we don’t want to disrupt your relationship with your current milk buyer – we want to work with them.
There has been much evidence to show that consumers want to support British dairy farmers in recent months. Our own market research conducted, by Promar International, showed that people want to know that farmers receive a large portion of the price they pay for milk and the launch of our Pasture Promise on the Free Range Dairy website (click here to see more) this week, has prompted people to demonstrate their support. However, we are not simply appealing to consumers to say “farmers deserve a better deal”. We are offering them something more – the opportunity to make a more informed choice about the milk they buy.
The dairy industry is now at a crossroads. We either accept that milk is to be forever consigned to the global commodity market, or we reinstate it as a valuable food in British households. Given that the first option inevitably means milk production will be driven towards fewer, larger farms, I am in favour of the value route. People do want to see cows in fields and many believe that is where all milk actually comes from. Under the Pasture Promise label we are providing consumers with a simple assurance that it comes from cows that enjoy the freedom to graze in fields for at least six months of the year. It is our aim to provide people with what they want and capture the value of the cows in our fields at the farm gate.
There is a lot of work going on in the industry to raise the profile of British dairy farmers and the milk they supply. But, I believe we need to offer consumers something in return for asking them to pay more. Our messages have been well received amongst the general public and those promoting British food. But, what we really need to demonstrate now is that we have an industry that can deliver. That’s why I am appealing to farmers to join us now. The opportunity is there but if we are to grasp it, we must create a nationwide network of producers and let everyone know who we are and where we are. We do charge a membership fee (£50 if you have less than 200 cows and £100 if you have more than this). That money goes towards covering the cost of meetings, running the website and promoting what we stand for. I know money is really tight in farming households right now, but I hope you will consider this a worthwhile investment in the future of your business.
A revolution is beginning in British dairy farming please don’t miss this opportunity to drive it in the right direction. Join us to bring farmers and consumers together and put real value back into milk.