“Is a big farm a bad farm?,” asks CIWF

Compassion In World Farming’s CEO Philip Lymbery concludes,

So, it’s not the size that is bad, but the direction of travel that it represents. At a time in history when pigs and poultry are now increasingly being kept in more extensive ways, often outdoors, it is ironic that dairy cows potentially face the opposite direction of travel.

So, the size of a ‘mega-dairy’ of thousands of cows is symptomatic of a system that has become divorced from the land and is pushing the dairy cow to its physical limits. It also plays into the hands of those who see milk as a low quality commodity with little value. Devaluing the dairy industry seems to me to be the road to ruin, not sustainability.

Trying to solve a systemic problem of the marketplace by tweaking the mechanics of production isn’t the way forward. Instead, it is a cul-de-sac that will see many dairy farmers go out of business to the detriment of a sustainable food system. In my view, there is an urgent need for key stakeholders to work together; dairy farmers, retailers, milk processors and government, to work out how to bring about a market environment that supports the sustainable, human-scale dairying that we otherwise face losing. The welfare of our cows, the future of many dairy farmers and the integrity of milk is depending on it. A different direction of travel is now essential.