Defending the industry

Published 16 March 10

Defending the industry - the dos and don'ts

Milk and dairy products can be found in over 90% of UK fridges - not many foods can claim that statistic.

However, for various reasons some people choose not to consume dairy products.  It's a small minority, but on occasions a vociferous one as evidenced by the furore on website blogs and in the letters pages of the national press following the news of a proposed 'super dairy' in Lincolnshire.

DairyCo is committed to defending the image of the dairy farming industry but in situations like this we are faced with quite a challenge - how do we respond to very emotive statements if they don't actually contain any factual inaccuracies, and is it our role to do so?

If we do, we risk getting into debates with groups who will continue to use emotive and sensationalist language to try and enrage and subsequently engage consumers in their campaigns.  

However, if statements are factually incorrect, we must, and will, immediately correct them.

Much work is being done behind the scenes to educate consumer journalists and we are continuing to gather information which enables us to do this.  Unfortunately we sometimes find there isn't any robust research in place that can prove, for example, the exact incidence of lameness, the actual number of 365-day housed herds. 

So this exercise is also showing up where we have any gaps in industry knowledge - and the need for information which can feed into our research strategy so we can respond robustly when facing accusations in the future.

Above all we need to be in a position to confidently offer factual, and proven, information on all aspects and types of farming systems. 

So back to consumers where we started - DairyCo is in the process of creating a website  www.thisisdairyfarming.com looking at all aspects of life on a dairy farm and how milk is produced.  This will be the starting point for consumers and consumer journalists to uncover the facts about the industry, enabling us to assert facts, and rebut myths about dairy farming and farmers. 

We look forward to your feedback on this and also on our role in promoting and defending the dairy farming industry.

If you have any comments please email info@dairyco.org.uk.