Dumfries and Galloway Farmer Has His say about the ‘The Dark Side of Dairy’

David Finlay is dairy farmer from Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, tonight in a BBC documentary he tells how he has stopped taking calves away from their mothers in a departure from normal farming practice.

Mr Finlay has been talking to Samantha Poling from BBC Scotland’s Disclosure programme, as she investigates The Dark Side of Dairy.

View the BBC trailer HERE

David Finlay told DGWGO rural and farming news:

The industrialisation of dairy farming has been of increasing concern to us for over a decade.  This is why we have invested close to £1m in developing a new model of dairy farming that directly addresses all of these issues. 
“Traditional dairy farmers are between a rock and a hard place, trapped between high supply costs and low wholesale prices that are pushing them to breaking point.  It is the system that is the problem, not the farmers. We know many farmers are deeply uncomfortable with the consequences of industrial farming.
“This issue shouldn’t be polarised between the business interests of industrial mega-dairies and the vegan movement. 
“This issue is so much bigger than that.  It’s about our nation’s food security, the social impact, the quality of our soil and sustainability of our environment as well as the welfare of animals and the cost of milk. 
“Scotland produces outstanding dairy produce and there is an opportunity to take the lead in pioneering sustainable, high welfare dairy systems that are replicable and of global importance. Let us start valuing the male calves and recognising them as an important part of an integrated, sustainable food system.
“All forms of food production involve compromise.  Rather than polarise the debate between pro and anti dairy factions; we urge policy makers, the industry and consumers to look for solutions that address waste and deliver nutritious food alongside public benefits and high welfare for farm animals.”


The Ethical Dairy brand was launched in March and is the culmination of 10 years of development and planning by the Finlays to create a sustainable food production system based on ecological farming principles.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “The number of UK dairy bull calves exported every year makes up a very small proportion of dairy bull calves and the Scottish Dairy industry is actively working to reduce the number and find alternative home markets.
“Live exporting calves is not the preference of most dairy farmers in Scotland but unfortunately there is a limited market in the UK for dairy bull calves and exporting is the only viable option for some dairy farmers.
“All trade to these markets is done through reputable exporters who manage the journey to a high standard, ensuring that the calves arrive at their destination in good condition, and the production system at the destination meets the same EU requirements as the UK.
“NFU Scotland is aware that the Scottish Government’s department for Animal Health and Welfare are looking into the process of live exporting to Europe and we are confident that any decision, based on sound and thorough scientific deliberation, will be that although animals should be reared and slaughtered as close to origin as practical, if animals are to live a productive life then transport to other countries should be a legitimate option, provided that it is done humanely.
“The Union, along with other stakeholders, is beginning to look at the development of a home market for dairy beef and rose veal, which would hopefully decrease the need for dairy farmers to export dairy bull calves. This is a difficult process which requires the cooperation of everyone in the supply chain, but we believe will be more than worthwhile if we can make it happen.”


Davids is now crowdfunding to support cashflow during the 3 year cow with calf pilot to help prove the concept.  The crowdfunder was launched to coincide with Organic September and participation in organic festivals and events in London by the business.  It is set to run into the autumn calving period when The Ethical Dairy will be undertaking some awareness raising activities.  The crowdfunder can be accessed at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/theethicaldairy


More information about The Ethical Dairy and its products can be found at www.theethicaldairy.co.uk on Twitter on @theethicaldairy and on Facebook @EthicalDairy

Disclosure will be on BBC One Scotland at 8:30pm on Monday and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

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