Is the dairy farm in the fields or a factory?

January 7, 2015


MILK MATTERS: People arguing for indoor dairies say it is the most efficient way to produce cheap milk. Critics say it devalues small dairy farms and will create a new glut of milk.



GRAZING REGIME: These bullocks are grazing land off the path going up to Durdle Door in Lulworth. Fifty eight per cent of land in Dorset is used for grazing with dairy farming contributing to that figure.


WILL parts of the Dorset and Somerset countryside have to be concreted over to accommodate a megadairy in order to supply cheap milk?

Oh, I forgot to say, we need the countryside kept the way it is in order for tourists and residents of towns like Yeovil, Bournemouth and Southampton to visit the area’s distinctive asset because it’s nice to look at. Well, that might be difficult to facilitate without farmers as the UK’s environmental government budget has been cut and will be so again after the next election and it doesn’t help if sixteen dairy farmers are being driven off the land every week.

But if large swathes were to be in constant neglect as no one would be looking after it, what would be the point of visiting it? And furthermore how can the dairy custodians of that environment help to look after it from inside sheds?

If you are not a farmer or conservationist and reading this, live in a rural or semi-rural area off the back of the landscape value, if that countryside saw signs of neglect, can you be absolutely certain that your house value would not depreciate?

According to the NFU farming facts for Dorset and Somerset, environmental stewardship schemes contribute £10.2M and £13.2M to the county’s rural economies and to help maintain various AONBs like the Blackmore Vale, the Purbecks, the Mendip Hills, the Cranborne Chase and the New Forest National Park in western Hampshire.

How can this figure be equalled if the dairy industry is farmed under sheds? Fifty eight (58) per cent of land in Dorset is managed for grassland and 72 per cent in Dorset. The dairy industry contributes to this mix.

Amongst the broadsheet newspapers, The Guardian’s Joe Henley penned an article asks whether it is animal welfare friendly to have a milking cow carrying out its function under three large hangars.

Plans are foot for a 1,000-strong dairy herd in the village of Leighton, near Welshpool, for three hangar-size sheds with fitted cubicles on three storeys of milking parlours. Added to this are six large fodder facilities and two huge slurry tanks. Proponents insist it is welfare-friendly and a much more efficient way of milk production.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no socialist, but isn’t the corporate-style mega dairy less beneficial to the community and the environment than the small family dairy farm?

Bob Sugar said this about the story posted on social media about the Leighton project.

“Is this really the way to make a living? How many decent, hard-working families will lose their livelihoods because of one person’s need to make a name for themselves? When cows stay indoors your farm becomes a factory.”

Derek Torrans said: “Its large greedy farmers like this who wreck our industry. Flooding the market with more milk, this is the last thing we need in the current downfall and with the abolition of quotas this year. This may fall favour for the large, corporate supermarket but not with the ordinary hard working smaller dairy farmers.

A few weeks ago I reported on Jon Jenner Leah’s suggestion of using all the surplus milk produced from quotas, freeze drying it and sending it as food instead of cash to those in poorer parts of the world that need it.

I saw a comment posted by Nichola Gornall on this subject and perhaps there is a window of opportunity for progress to be made by Defra and other interested parties.

She said: “What would change is if we dumped all the 7 per cent extra milk we are supposedly all producing. Brings us back to producing the right amount?!

“Our processor is putting up a multi-million pound drying plant which should open very soon. This is meant to take all the surplus milk from various dairies, hopefully this will help too.”

On a campaigning note, I can be found on Twitter. Look to the right of this article on my site and you will find my Twitter address. Don’t know if this will catch but one can only try #buylocal #countryside #tourism – retweet this. This basically means buy local, protect countryside, safeguard tourism. It is a long slogan so had to hash tag it this way.



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