Join our community

We have now launched formal membership of the Free Range Dairy Network for farmers and we are also giving others who want to be able to choose milk from cows in fields the chance to support us. In order to bring about real change in the British Dairy industry we need to bring farmers and… Read more »

Regional Farmer Meetings

We have been fortunate enough to secure a small amount of funding to run a series of regional meetings for farmers interested in winning recognition for free range milk production, over the next few months. Perhaps now more than ever before, there is an urgent need to find a way to install value in the… Read more »

On the right track

When I was getting a few jobs done on the farm early yesterday morning, before heading off for our Free Range Dairy meeting, I was heartened to hear BBC Radio 4 discussing opportunities to engage consumers and secure a fair price for milk, which reinforced my belief that we are on the right track. You can… Read more »

Community Spirit

How much more can we achieve by working together? Free Range Dairy Network has been set up as a Community Interest Company (CIC) to create just that – a community. Farmers often find themselves isolated and unheard, living and working as they do in remote rural areas with no one to speak for them. In the… Read more »

Time for change

A week ago I attended a local meeting arranged by Farmers for Action (FFA) at which David Handley highlighted the need for the British dairy industry to stop promoting increased milk output without first securing markets for that extra milk. An estimated 200 dairy farmers, concerned about the recent downward spiral in milk prices, were present… Read more »

Free Range Dairy means business

When I set Free Range Dairy in 2011, it was largely born out of my frustration at the lack of value in British milk and the constant struggle for farmers to achieve a fair reward for what they produced. What started as movement to allow farmers who graze their cows to distinguish themselves from intensive farms,… Read more »

Is milk becoming the most volatile substance known to man?

  Over the past few months dairy farmers have been forced to accept a series of milk price cuts totalling almost 5 pence a litre. For a typical family farm with 150 cows, producing 1 million litres of milk, that amounts to a reduction in revenue of £45,000 a year. In many instances, all of the profit they would have… Read more »

A race to the bottom

  Why are Britain’s supermarkets in a race to bottom right now and what will they find when they get there? I heard on the Today Programme this morning that Sainsbury’s are setting up a joint venture with Danish retailer Netto, in an attempt to take on the rapidly growing ‘discounters’. Meanwhile, Morrisons have just… Read more »

Getting more from grass

Thanks to Dr George Fisher for a really interesting article in the excellent June issue of British Dairying magazine. Dr Fisher explains “We don’t tend to think of grazed grass in the same way as other feeds like silage or concentrate, where we measure the energy content to judge its quality. But, we should do,… Read more »

Promar herd margins

Figures produced by James Dunn from Promar Consultancy show that headline rises in dairy herd margins are largely down to increasing milk prices over the last 12 months. In an article in Dairy Farmer magazine, Mr Dunn showed that whilst average milk yield per cow rose from 7,698 litres to 8,006 (+ 308 litres) on Promar costed farms, milk from… Read more »

Pasture Promise TV link

There is now a link on our home page to the Pasture Promise TV website. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you will find it under the ‘Follow Us’ section alongside the Facebook, Twitter and You Tube icons. Graham Harvey is doing some great work to promote sustainable milk and meat… Read more »

SOS – Save Our Soils

“The farming lobby has wrecked efforts to defend our soil”. That was the title of a blog posted on The Guardian website by George Monbiot, last Thursday. The blog was referring to the National Farmers Union’s successful efforts to prevent the passing of an EU directive that was to set out a framework to protect… Read more »

Liz Earle Wellbeing

  Interest in how the way in which dairy farmers manage their herds influences the quality of our milk continues to grow. Through her new website Liz Earle is doing a lot of work to promote healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle and Liz recognises the contribution that milk and meat from grazing herds can make…. Read more »

Thank you to The Muriel Jones Foundation

We still have some way to go to make milk from free range dairy herds a widely available choice across the UK. But, I am really pleased with the growing interest in Free Range Dairy, particularly since winning the BBC Outstanding Farmer of The Year Award and the publicity that has generated. In our busy… Read more »

Do we breed cows for a system or design a system to suit the cows?

  I heard an interesting debate about the breeding of dairy cows on Radio 4’s Farming Today programme this morning, which examined how breeding for higher milk yields has impacted on the health and wellbeing of modern dairy cows. You can listen to the radio programme here. Advances in cattle breeding have given farmers the opportunity… Read more »

We must not become casualties of supermarket price wars

The flavour of the countryside

‘The White Stuff’. That’s what one promotional campaign once called it. In recent years farmers supplying large volumes of milk for the liquid milk market have been said to be on ‘White Water Contracts’ – so called because of the low fat requirements. Is that how you regard your milk? As white water or the… Read more »

Farmers deserve recognition for milk from grazed herds

If I have got the German translation right, it appears that the Lower Saxony Agricultural Minister, Christian Meyer, is seeking to ban retailers from marketing milk and dairy products with images of cows in fields if they are not committed to sourcing milk from grazing herds. A pasture label will be developed together with the… Read more »

Where next for Free Range Dairy?

At last week’s BBC Food & Farming Awards, food writer and radio presenter Shelia Dillon said something that I think encapsulates what Free Range Dairy is all about. She said “Our finalists represent something special – living proof that good food, tradition and taste are all worth fighting for and sharing knowledge about”. I know… Read more »

Neil Darwent – BBC Outstanding Farmer of the Year

I am delighted to have won the 2014 BBC Food & Farming Award for Outstanding Farmer of the Year. Listen here to the award ceremony. I was presented with the award by Adam Henson and Mike Gooding at a celebration of food and farming held in Bristol on Thursday evening. I was privileged to find myself… Read more »

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