News & Press
Save our Dairy Farms24th Jul 2012
The Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT), Britain’s major farming and wildlife charity is not convinced at the latest “voluntary agreement” on milk prices reached between producers, buyers and politicians.
CRT Chairman, Robin Page says: “The situation is scandalous and has been for years. The supermarkets and wholesalers are too powerful. They were before the so-called agreement, and they are after the agreement. The Government should dictate the price of milk as it did once through the Milk Marketing Board, even if this does offend the Eurocrats and Europhiles. Such a move would ensure a fair price to the consumer and to the producer.
But at the same time farmers must examine the way in which they are producing milk and the Government, through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, must carefully look at the dreadful environmental impact on modern dairy farming. Doesn’t Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State, realise that low prices have caused farmers to intensify to such a level that there has been an almost complete wildlife wipe-out on dairy farms except for a few rats, crows and badgers”.
The CRT is also concerned at the pressures being put on modern-day dairy cows. Robin Maynard, CRT Trustee and courageous countryside campaigner says: “The low cost of milk is putting farmers on an even faster spinning treadmill. Cows are bred as milk-machines rather than for their resilience against disease. The average intensive Holstein dairy cow is running at a metabolic rate of a Tour de France cyclist going uphill. That inevitably brings increased welfare problems of lameness and mastitis which means greater prophylactic use, and reliance on antibiotics – creating the perfect conditions for the emergence of antibiotic resistant “superbugs” with impacts for human health.
Highly stressed animals in crowded conditions fed on rations less suitable for them than hay and pasture are more susceptible to diseases – including bovine TB. All this forces farmers to cut corners as they chase disappearing profit margins – and leaves less and less space for wildlife on the average dairy farm”.
Robin Page adds: “The wildlife wipe-out on dairy farms is alarming with summer long forage harvesting – cutting grass at ground level, at running speed - gone are the lapwings, the skylarks, the grey partridges, orchids, butterflies, the brown hare. Can’t Caroline Spelman and the supermarket executives see this, or aren’t they interested? What concerns me just as much is the silence on the subject from other conservation bodies – the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts and the National Trust – where are they? Why can’t we hear them?”