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A monthly newsletter brought to you by Free Range Dairy Network
Volume 2, Issue 11
July 2017

Editor’s Comment

Free Range Dairy | Pasture Promise LogoYou might have seen it in the papers or the advert on TV? But Arla is spending £5 million to promote it’s organic free range milk. The advert looks familiar because it was the same advert put out a few months ago publishing their new organic milk, the ad was pulled after the Advertising Standards Agency declared that the advert was misleading. Now it’s back with the words Free Range. Although they state on their website they do not specify a defined number of grazing days. Free Range Dairy Network has worked so hard to establish free range milk as coming from cows that have grazed a set minimum number of days but they have just added the words it seems to make more of the grazing claim than the organic. Organic is one type of farming system that has been around a lot longer than Free Range Dairy Network and has added value to milk and dairy products of that section of dairying. We’re not organic and don’t pretend to be. What we are doing, is working hard on Free Range Dairy farming practices to add much needed value to traditional dairy farms, where cows are grazed for a minimum of 180 days and nights per year. We believe that to call milk Free Range it should come from cows that are grazed outdoors for a minimum number of days, not an average, of 6 months per year. This is because an average figure masks the range of days cows are grazed, meaning some may have little or no access to pasture.

Free Range Dairy | The Yorkshire Dales Food and Drink FestivalThe summer is always a busy time for Free Range Dairy Network with Free Range Dairy farm events as well the opportunity to work in collaboration with farmers and processors at festivals across the UK. I was at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate with Our Cow Molly recently and this weekend I’ll be in Skipton at the Yorkshire Food Festival on July 22nd & 23rd promoting the Free Range Dairy Network and Free Range Milk. If you’re going to be there, come over and say hello and try some Freedom to Graze Free Range Milk and cheese. We’ll also be at Countryfile Live in August in Adam Henson’s farming area.

Best Wishes,

Carol Lever
Free Range Dairy Network CIC

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In this Issue

1. Arla Organic Free Range Milk

2. Compassion in World Farming Map

3. Our Cow Molly & Morrisons

4. Birmingham Coffee Festival


Arla Organic Free Range Milk

Free Range Dairy | Arla Free Range Organic MilkPeople have been asking us what does Arla’s new Organic Free Range Milk label really mean. To be honest, we don’t know as there’s conflicting information on the website. On one page, it says cows graze for over 200 days every year but on another, it says cows graze outside whenever possible  It doesn’t say if all the cows have to be grazed, or for how many hours each day and if cows are grazed at night. To clear things up I’ve written to Arla asking them to clarify their position as they have been accused of misleading consumers in the past. Their Milk for Farmers range brought out when farmers in the UK were struggling and going out of business, said on the bottle that 10p on a four pint bottle would go back to farmers. What wasn’t clear was that all Arla farmers, not just their UK ones, had a share of the money from that milk sold in the UK. It went to support Arla dairy farmers in Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.

One thing I want to make clear is that we’re not going after the organic market. We want people who currently purchase conventional or ‘standard’ milk to trade up to Free Range.  We’re working hard to add much needed value into our dairy industry. Organic has done great work for their farmers working to their organic standards. But, only 4% of the milk produced in the UK is certified organic. So, we’re working to do the same for traditional grazing farmers that can meet our Free Range Dairy standards. It’s a shame that Arla feels the organic story isn’t strong enough and are using the hard work we’ve put into Free Range Dairy Network to help sell their organic milk.

We want to be clear that we do not consider that organic automatically means free range. Soil Association standards say the following:

You must allow all your livestock access to pasture unless the following circumstances temporarily prevent this:

  • the health or welfare of the animal
  • the weather conditions and the state of the ground,
  • or community or national requirements relating to specific animal health problems.

It’s hard to measure a standard that ‘allow access to pasture’ with no clear definition. That could be open the barn door and see if they want to go out. We believe is has to be a measured standard such as a minimum of 180 days and nights per year to count as Free Range Milk.
Sainsbury’s is looking to get rid of Fairtrade and run its own scheme but that’s like letting the fox run the hen house. Consumers have more trust in third parties that monitor schemes like this and it’s one of the reasons we don’t buy and sell milk.

We want Free Range Milk to be the third option between standard and organic but it’s important that the hard work we’ve done to bring this to the market isn’t eroded by others simply using the words Free Range as a marketing ploy, without making a clear and consistent commitment to giving cows the freedom to graze.

Compassion in World Farming Factory Farm Map

Free Range Dairy | CIWF Free Range Dairy | CIWF

July 11th was Cow Appreciation Day and I wrote a blog for Compassion in World Farming to show my appreciation for cows but also to highlight that without clear labelling, we don’t know where our milk is coming from.

Now, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) has released a map that shows just how big intensive farming is getting in the UK. CIWF estimate that around 70% of farm animals in the UK are kept in factory farms, where they spend their lives in overcrowded barns or cages.

‘Factory farming has spread across the country to satisfy our appetite for cheap meat, dairy, and eggs, at great cost to animal welfare, human health, and the environment.’

My work on large intensive dairy farms and from working with the communities living next to them was a big factor in my decision to join Neil Darwent to establish Free Range Dairy Network. We want people to be able to make an informed choice when buying milk and to be secure in the knowledge that the milk hasn’t come from factory farms.

CIWF are asking for a range of measures including mandatory labelling by means of production for meat and dairy products.

Take action here to support CIWF in their fight against factory farming.

Our Cow Molly & Morrisons

Free Range Dairy | Our Cow Molly and MorrisonsOur Cow Molly has been the first brand of Free Range Milk carrying the Pasture Promise logo to go into Morrisons stores in Sheffield. We were really excited about that and this was followed quickly by Cotteswold Dairy going into Gloucestershire and surrounding local stores and then Stephenson’s Dairy into the Lancashire stores.

In light of the worrying news about the rise in factory farms in the UK this is a great opportunity to show there is another way. Every bottle of milk carrying the Pasture Promise logo means the cows have grazed a minimum of 6 months per year with many grazing for longer. It also means that a premium is paid to farmers to encourage them to adopt sustainable grazing farming practices. We need to utilise natural resources like grass that we can’t eat, but cows can, to turn into nutritious milk.

We hope to have other local Free Range Dairy brands going into more local Morrisons stores soon. Check on the Free Range Dairy Network map to find out your nearest stockists.

Birmingham Coffee festival

Free Range Dairy | BCF
We love a coffee festival. The smell of the beans, the barista competitions, just talking to people who are as passionate about their coffee as we are about our milk. It was Birmingham’s first coffee festival and it was very exciting that Cotteswold Dairy was the official milk for festival.

The UK has become a nation of coffee drinkers, with coffee shop visitors purchasing an estimated 2.3 billion cups of coffee per year in stores. Consumers are more knowledgeable and empowered with choice than ever before, and the rise of artisan coffee has driven the desire for premium quality coffee. It’s been said that the coffee market has grown so rapidly that coffee shops are now replacing the local pub.

Changes in the coffee market are happening so quickly that coffee is now in the fifth wave. The fifth wave encompasses a combination of all four previous waves – Tradition, Chains, Artisan, and Science. This means that high quality artisan type chains will be a major feature of the market going forward. These coffee roasters and chains are set to deliver authentic, artisan concepts at scale and Birmingham Coffee Festival was a showcase for these types of businesses.

Free Range Dairy | Birmingham Coffee FestivalFree Range Dairy Pasture Promise milk, provided by Stephenson’s Dairy  has been the official milk for the last two years at Manchester Coffee Festival, so it was great to have the opportunity to team up with Birmingham’s Coffee Festival, to bring Free Range Milk to coffee lovers in the Midlands too. We believe great coffee deserves great milk.

After 18 years of considerable continued growth, the coffee shop market is one of the most successful in the UK economy. As milk can make up to 90% of most coffee drinks, this presents a fantastic opportunity for UK dairy farmers, as fresh milk that tastes great, froths well and holds its foam is what artisan baristas are looking for.

If you have any stories to contribute then please contact Free Range Dairy at
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