THE Tenant Farmers’ Association has slammed suggestions that our traditional fresh morning pint of milk should give way to a tasteless UHT substitute.
The suggestion of a move to UHT milk is coupled with a proposed target of reducing the methane output of dairy cows by 60%, which could mean having to halve the national dairy herd. The TFA’s spokesman on dairy farming, Jerry Rider, said: “This is just crackers. At a time when consumers are rightly demanding more in the way of local, fresh, tasty farm produce someone in a grey suit is thinking about force feeding them an over processed and tasteless alternative.
“In any case, there are big question marks over whether the science behind the suggestion is sound. The impacts on carbon balances are not as clear cut as is being suggested and there are good reasons to suggest that the switch could lead to a net increase in carbon emissions.”
According to the TFA, the proposal for methane reduction would require fewer, higher yielding cows to reduce the amount of methane produced per unit of output.
However, Mr Rider pointed out that this is likely to increase carbon emissions since these cows would have to be housed all the time due to their feed and management requirements, which could well negate any suggested methane benefits.
“By 2020, there will be a conflict between arable land used for food or fuel production. With only 6.5 million hectares of land suitable for arable production, there will not be enough land to meet the cereal demands from humans and livestock.
“Milk and meat must therefore come from production systems that rely upon the 12 million hectares of grassland which also has enormous carbon sequestration benefits,” said Mr Rider. “Dairy farming on grass-based systems is one of the most natural, environmentally sensitive activities that takes place in our countryside. The environmental knock-on effects of a major reduction in our dairy herd would be horrendous, not to mention the impact on our nation’s food security which is vital in these changing times.
“Civil Servants in Defra have told me that the suggestions are for discussion only and they were put out as a ‘bit of an Aunt Sally’. I hope, therefore, that together with my industry colleagues, we can make certain that this particular ‘Aunt Sally’ will be knocked well and truly off her perch.”