The soaring costs of feed, fuel, energy and fertilisers are causing farmers to quit dairy farming. A recent survey by the National Farmers’ Union has highlighted the mounting pressures that farmers are facing. In recent years, the combination of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, loss of labour and rising import costs, and now the Russian-Ukraine war, have resulted in an unfavourable environment for those who exploit animals for profits. Alongside increased public awareness of the commodification, abuse and cruelty inherent within dairy farming, and the unsustainability of the industry, could we be witnessing the demise of this industry in the UK?
The survey revealed that by 2024, 7% of producers believe that they will likely stop dairy farming, accounting for 840 farms. A further 15% are considering ditching dairy production too, amounting to nearly 25% of dairy farmers contemplating quitting the industry entirely – between two and three thousands farmers.
Many of the farmers who are considering leaving the industry are smaller-scale producers, who are likely being outcompeted by larger, intensive dairies, and those under contract by large corporations like coffee chains, dairy processors and supermarkets. Could this mean further intensification of the industry and a rapid rise in zero-grazing systems? This news at least gives hope that less cows and calves will be exploited, abused and killed in the near future, and if intensification increases, this will give shoppers even more reason to stop supporting the violent industry.
The upsurge in consumption of plant-based milks, especially British oat milk, provides the perfect opportunity for farmers to transition to plant-based production, creating environmentally-friendly and sustainable products. Compared to cow’s milk, oat milk produces 80% less greenhouse gases, uses 60% less energy, ten times less water and ten times less land. What we now need is for the government to provide systems through which farmers can make the change to plant-based agriculture, including financial and structural support.
Plant-based farming initiatives are vital to enable us to create a kinder, more sustainable world for everyone. Take a look at our Farming for a Future campaign to see what existing initiatives are already in place by NGOs and examples of courageous farmers who have already made the transition.
For the animals.