Subsidise dairy farmers to diversify

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The Vegan Society called on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee to recommend support for dairy farmers to diversify away from failing dairy farming.

Farmers need support to diversify away from failing dairy farming and other livestock farming. Subsidies to move into crop farming - from agro-forestry to arable - as well as for agro-tourism and biodiversity projects, are right for farmers, tax-payers and the environment, as well as non-human animals.  The Vegan Society calls on the EFRA Committee to put farmers' long-term livelihoods first, by funding moves toward economically, environmentally and ethically sustainable plant-based agriculture. EFRA's current proposals merely attempt to delay the inevitable, with unsustainable proposals such as EU intervention on prices and modified labelling.

Farmers should move away from dairy into agriculture

Vegan Society CEO, Jasmijn de Boo, feels that the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee's strategy to support the dairy farmers would be another attempt to prop up an ailing ‘industry'. "Dairy farmers need Government subsidy to diversify away from their failing industry", says de Boo. "A mixed portfolio of low carbon land use - from arable to agro-forestry, for food, fibre, fuels & more - is best for farmers' livelihoods in the age of climate change", she added. "There is clearly an oversupply of cows' milk and this will inevitably drive prices down. Reducing the number of people making their livelihoods from dairy farming is one of the few things that will make a real difference - and not just to farmers", said de Boo.

Dairy farming causes great suffering to calves and cows. Cows are required to produce an unnatural and very high volume of milk and they struggle to maintain their metabolism and health under such stress. Lameness and udder infections are common among dairy cows as a result of the unnaturally high milk yields demanded of them. A cow should only naturally produce enough milk to feed her own calf until it is weaned: "Many people do not understand that dairy milk is only suitable for calves. Calves are taken away from their mothers at birth and this causes both calves and cows great emotional distress. The male calves are destined for a short life as they cannot become milk machines in their turn. Humans are the only animals that feed milk to themselves and other animals after weaning", de Boo commented. She believes it is "time we welcomed the consumption of plant protein directly, rather than passing it through four cow stomachs and contributing to greenhouses gases and animal suffering and death along the way."

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