Ethical Dairy – Sustainability begins with a fair deal for farmers

Ethical Dairy – Sustainability begins with a fair deal for farmers

This week, we’re joined again by #EthicalHour sponsor Free Range Dairy Network to discuss the ethics of the dairy industry, how to empower consumers to be active food citizens and discover more about their Pasture Promise.

Last time they discussed the role of the ethical consumer in creating a more ethical dairy industry.

Today they are back to discuss the role of profit and why we need a fair deal for farmers if we’re going to ensure an ethical and sustainable food production system.

This guest post is part of the #EthicalHour sponsorship programme – written by Free Range Dairy Network:

What does sustainability mean to you?

Is it all about climate change and saving the planet?

There are numerous definitions of sustainability to be found these days, but I like this one I came across on Investopedia.com that says “Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”.

Of course, environmental safeguards are of utmost importance when trying to establish sustainable food production.

As are our own needs (those of people), in terms of securing a reliable source of healthy and affordable food that is essential for our survival.

But what about profit?

Should we regard that as a component of sustainability too?

Profit has become a dirty word, increasingly associated with power and greed, but it is a primary motivator in delivering what we need, ensuring that someone, somewhere, will get up in the morning and make sure there is food in stores for us to buy.

It is an inescapable fact that profit is made from the exploitation of natural resources, or our planet’s ‘natural capital’ and nowhere are its effects more plain to see, than in farming and food production.

We hear a lot about how the relentless pursuit of profit is destroying our environment, compromising animal welfare and even damaging our health, because it often drives businesses to adopt practices that are totally unsustainable.

However, profit can be a force for good, rewarding those committed to farming in harmony with the natural environment and helping them to feed their families, pay their bills and reinvest in their farms.

Profit should not incentivise industrial agriculture that depletes our precious natural capital, denies freedom for farm animals and diminishes our health and wellbeing.

Instead, profit should be a reward for delivering so called ‘public goods’ and making a positive contribution to society.

That way we can all profit from farming and enjoy great food.

This is what Free Range Dairy Network aims to deliver.

We believe that by helping people to understand how their milk choice influences the way milk is produced in farms, we can show farmers that people are willing to directly reward them for demonstrating responsibility for the care of their cows and the environment in which they farm.

When we license the Pasture Promise logo to dairy companies, one of the conditions of the license agreement is that they must pay farmers a premium for adhering to our free range standards.

The farmers promise to give their cows the freedom to graze for at least 6 months of the year and operate a traditional, pasture-based farming system.

As a result, some of our members are now earning up to an additional £20,000 a year, for producing milk to be sold under the Pasture Promise logo.

This financial incentive is helping them to profit from farming the way people want them to farm and to further invest in the care of their cows and the countryside.

We are learning, first hand, how a fair reward to farmers is key to delivering sustainability.

It is a powerful incentive for any business and, with your help, we can harness that incentive to meet your needs and the needs of future generations.

Please help us to drive wider change by asking for the Pasture Promise logo wherever you buy milk and dairy products.

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