Many discussion groups undertake study tours and this year the White Horse Dairy Discussion Group went further than many groups with a week-long visit to Wisconsin. Over 5 days we saw a wide range of dairy and related businesses. A number of common issues were discussed.
The anti-animal brigade is probably even more vocal in the US than they are in Europe and with larger units the risk of exposure of animal welfare issues is seen as a constant threat. Most of the producers we met had included clauses in contracts of employment enabling instant dismissal in the cases of poor animal welfare husbandry and many were now going further and taking legal action against any one abusing animals. At the same time, it was suggested that anyone not reporting cases of animal abuse would be liable to prosecution on the grounds that they had a responsibility to report such instances.
An increasing number of dairy units are opening their doors to the public and whilst this could expose problems, the farmers we talked to were keen to show the public that they had nothing to hide and had a good story to tell. The engagement with schools was growing and the information provided was interesting as this all sized poster showed.
The public appetite for non-dairy “milks” is a concern to all dairy farmers. The promotion of the nutritional benefits of milk when compared to other drinks was widespread and increasing.
Contact William at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on this trip. Most FCG offices run discussion groups who have annual group study tours. Contact your local FCG office to get more information on joining one of these progressive groups where members learn collectively through practical on farm experiences and outside research and innovation.