Free Range Dairy Network Community Interest Company (CIC) was started in July 2014. It grew out of the existing Free Range Dairy venture started by Neil Darwent, BBC Outstanding Farmer of the Year 2014, back in 2011 as a response to “get big or get out” messages coming from within the dairy industry.
In 2014 Carol Lever joined Neil as joint Director to start the CIC in an attempt to offer farmers an alternative vision of the future founded on value rather than volume, by promoting a way of farming that:
- Pays a fair price for farmers
- Gives cows the freedom to graze for six months (days and nights)
- Delivers healthy, affordable milk for consumers
The Free Range Dairy Network is a registered company with a social mission and is asset locked. This means that profits generated by the company go back into the business to benefit its members and deliver on our social mission.
Our social mission is
To promote the value of pasture based milk production on British dairy farms for the benefit of farmers, cows and consumers.
We want to help people understand that small, traditional farms that produce milk from a simple, pasture-based system are efficient and play a vital role in sustaining rural communities. Tightening consolidation in the milk supply chain threatens to squeeze out these farmers, as the market focuses on delivering large volumes of cheap milk. That’s why Free Range Dairy is creating an opportunity for farmers to build lasting value in their milk, by establishing free range milk production as a clearly defined farming system.
By creating a like-minded community, Free Range Dairy can facilitate collaboration to open up new market opportunities for milk and dairy products produced from free range herds. This will be complemented with technical support and knowledge transfer to ensure that farmers continue to become more efficient in utilising grass on their farms and better at caring for their soils.
We also believe that the health benefits from milk should play an important part in our diet and milk from cows that graze is higher in disease-fighting nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and the anti-cancer substance CLA.
The Free Range Dairy Pasture Promise Label
We are not seeking to establish a niche market for free range milk, but to achieve recognition for thousands of dairy farmers who allow their herds the freedom to graze and understand the benefits of simple, pasture-based farming and the important part this plays in protecting the dairy industry we know and love.
We welcome farmers of both conventional and organic status, regardless of the colour of their cows. We are united by a clear commitment to maximising the use of grass and grazing on our farms.
Join us and help us to instil real value in our dairy farms.