Dairy farmers have launched the 'Enjoy Milk' campaign to deliver a free range future for British dairy cows that consumers can trust.
The Free Range Milk Marketing Board (FRMMB), representing a group of more than 700 dairy farmers, launched the new campaign this week.
Campaigners behind the Enjoy Milk cause believe they have a new future for British Dairy cows.
The Enjoy Milk campaign aims to provide consumers with the opportunity to choose milk from guaranteed grazing based farms whilst offering farmers a fair deal.
The integrity of the Enjoy Milk campaign is based upon multiple principles, including the assertion that dairy cows should be allowed to graze grass as often as possible.
Enjoy Milk describes this as 'free ranging' or 'free range', as has long been the case with eggs.
Grazing on pasture
There is a perception from consumers that this is how they would prefer cows to live their lives, with 86% of those surveyed in a 2015 YouGov poll agreeing “that UK dairy cows should be able to graze on pasture and should not be permanently housed indoors”.
The campaign asserts that the definition of ‘free range’ dairy farming is crucial in calling for legal clarity over the use of the term.
In the meantime, the Free Range Milk Marketing Board has developed an application process and compliance procedure to ensure 100% integrity of the milk from Enjoy Milk dairy farms.
Enjoy Milk dairy farms have to commit to the achieving maximum milk yield from grazing based forage, meaning that their cows have the most days possible for grazing outside.
Whilst no dairy farm is the same, it is possible to objectively and simply determine whether an individual farm is committed to grazing or not.
Routine housing of the dairy stock at times of the year when it’s reasonable to expect cows to be grazing in fields is not permitted. Exceptions will be made for adverse events requiring temporary housing, such as flooding or biosecurity issues.
'Clear evidence' of free ranging
All applicants must provide evidence in support of the application to supply free ranging milk. In order to be robust but without causing an additional red tape burden on already hard pressed farmers, this evidence will rely on existing farm data.
All Enjoy Milk producers will be asked to submit annual management plans showing clear evidence of the grazing period achieved. The Enjoy Milk team are also investigating an interactive package of software to make the process of compliance and monitoring easier and real time related.
In the absence of a legal definition of free ranging for dairy cows, the purpose of these requirements is that there is complete clarity as to what the free range Enjoy Milk promise means, so every dairy farmer and consumers can buy in confidence.