Dairy Project Report: Farmer Insights 2021 – 2022

Much of UK dairy production has intensified, with average herd sizes doubling and milk production per cow increasing. Soaring input costs alongside limited increases in farmgate milk prices have pushed many small-scale farms out of production and others onto a treadmill of volume-based production over value-based products. This has major knock-on effects for animal welfare, the environment and the physical and mental health of farm workers. How can we step off the dairy treadmill and can dairying be done differently?

In 2021 and 2022, the Food Ethics Council held a series of workshops with 40 farmers and farm workers as part of the Dairy Project. We wanted to hear farmers’ aspirations for a fairer, more ethical dairy system, as well as their perceived barriers to change. This report captures those initial findings. 

This reports provides the context for the next phase of the Dairy Project, which will see the Food Ethics Council engage with others across the dairy value chain, as well as policymakers, to support actors to begin unblocking some of the perceived and actual barriers to fairer, more ethical dairy.