Free Range Dairy Network has been using the #notallmilkisthesame for a few months now and as we raise awareness of the work of Free Range Dairy Network, the clearer it becomes that indeed not all milk is the same.
Within our farmers network we have farmers located from the Yorkshire Dales down to Cornwall, with 250 cows through to 20 cows, who are either processing the milk themselves or supplying free range milk to a local processing business. We will soon have our first Free Range Dairy farmer selling his own free range milk via a vending machine at the farm gate. But what they all have in common is a commitment to meet our standards, which means grazing their cows for a minimum of 180 days and nights per year. The Pasture Promise logo represents a clearly defined farming system, established to deliver freedom for cows and a fair price for farmers.
Consumers have been well aware that not all eggs are the same. You can buy value eggs usually meaning they have been kept in barns, to free range and organic. In the same way, not all milk is the same, and we want consumers to be able to choose milk on the basis of the farming system that delivers it and the life afforded to the cows. But it is vital that the choice is clear, so we want free range to mean cows are assured the freedom to graze for at least half of the year or to spend at least half their lives outdoors on pasture.
Neil, fellow Director of Free Range Dairy Network and long time dairy farmer has seen the industry change and become more standardised, as the supply chain consolidates to deliver cheap milk. Increasingly milk from large, intensive systems and small family farms contracted to big processors, is mixed together to be shipped miles to be processed and then hauled many more miles before ending up on the shelves.
This standardisation of milk has done farmers a real disservice. They work long hours, care for their cows and produce milk to a high standard but the race to the bottom, in pursuit of cheap milk, has devalued a great food source. When we started Free Range Dairy Network we were told the only way to add value into milk was to turn it into something else! Adding ‘flavours’ to milk to make a milkshake and making it twice the price, means something has gone wrong in the food chain. Instead we decided to work to instil lasting value in milk at the farm gate, to offer consumers the chance to understand more about the way in which milk is produced on farms and make an informed decision when purchasing milk.
I was reading an article on the Wellness trend recently and they said that Wellness had been hijacked by people who just wanted to sell people stuff under the guise of it being healthy, but what we need is authenticity. I don’t believe people want to be hoodwinked by false claims and greenwash. Nor do they want claims of free ranging or pictures of cows in fields to sell milk from intensive farms. Free Range Dairy Network is a social enterprise and the Pasture Promise logo stands for clearer labelling with integrity.
Friday Night Feast (episode 4 this Friday) will be a great opportunity to showcase what Free Range Dairy Network is working to achieve. A clear way for consumers to know and trust where their milk comes from.
Not all milk is the same and here at Free Range Dairy Network we’re proud to be different.