Is Free Range Milk key to future of UK farming?

Stephenson's Dairy Owners Steph and Chris Stephenson at the Dairy in Morecambe.'17th August 2015
Stephenson's Dairy Owners Steph and Chris Stephenson at the Dairy in Morecambe.'17th August 2015

A Morecambe based dairy has become the first in the country to launch Free Range Milk.

Stephensons Dairy, in Southgate, has been working with Countryfile’s Farmer of the Year Neil Darwent to “drive positive change in the dairy industry” and get a better deal for farmers.

UK dairy farmers have been protesting over milk prices in recent weeks, with farmers demanding supermarkets pay a fair price for milk.

Many say they are in a desperate situation, with the cost of producing milk becoming higher than the price they are paid for it.

Environment Secretary Liz Truss said she wanted better labelling of British produce in supermarkets.

Chris Stephenson, from Stephensons Dairy, which started out as a milk round in Morecambe Bay in 2011, said: “Free Range Milk means cows are grazed outside for at least half the year and farmers are paid more per litre.

“We want to build a sustainable dairy industry in this country, because above all, we want to enjoy British milk for years to come.

“We’ve been working for the past three years with Countryfile’s Farmer of the Year Neil Darwent, to bring Free Range Milk to Britain’s doorstep.

“Why if we enjoy free range eggs should we not be able to choose the same in milk?

“We’re very proud to be driving this positive change in the dairy industry, and extremely pleased to be launching this initiative from Lancashire.”

Any dairy farmer interested in getting a fairer deal can apply to join the scheme, with the aim being to give everyone in the UK the chance to place more value on a pint of milk by buying Free Range Milk at an affordable price.

Chris added: “We want British Farmers to stay in business and we want to see a move away from the intensive farming techniques that are required to keep pace with ever greater price pressure – it’s about fairness for the whole supply chain and about recognising the value of good food.

“This puts money in the pockets of people who have been squeezed for years by national retailers.

“We know everyone in our free range milk supply chain.

“So this milk is fully traceable and local.”

Farmers are paid 5p per litre more for Free Range Milk, amd Stephensons is currently working with Dales Dairies in Grassington, near Skipton to distribute milk.

The company, which employs supplies 12 independent milkmen and serves over 100 businesses, delivers chilled dairy products to restaurants and food companies across the North West. Chris and Steph say they pride themselves on working closely with customers to understand exactly what each needs – being able to deliver daily is part of this.

Chris added: “Buying our Free Range Milk puts more money back into farmers’ hands and keeps cows grazing out in the fields from the first signs of spring. “Free Range Milk is good for dairy farmers and good for cows. We’re backing this, because we believe that fair trade should begin at home.”