Dairy farmers must ignore the foghorn of anti-dairy voices and instead focus on ensuring we all play our part to promote the superfood that is dairy said Graham Wilkinson, senior director of agriculture at Arla Foods UK.

Addressing Dairy Tech attendees, Mr Wilkinson highlighted that whilst dairy has always been a staple of British diets, a foghorn has been sounded, warning us of new competition entering the market.

He went on to state that dairy has an enviable position having been brought by 99.8 per cent of UK households last year, and that rather than be concerned, farmers should embrace the new interest consumers are showing in dairy.

Showcasing the latest learnings from the Arla UK 360 programme, Mr Wilkinson argued that the vast majority of people are very proud of British farmers, but there is confusion about farming practice and how dairy is made.

There is a need for greater transparency with consumers and for greater collaboration between farmers, retailers, government, environmentalists and scientists, he said.

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Mr Wilkinson explained that collaboration is key. He cited the example of project pollinator in which a small group of farmers have been looking at whether areas of farmland can be given over to help support pollinators. Working with an agronomist was essential to providing farmers with the knowledge and know how to succeed.

An Arla cow scanner programme is in its infancy. Working with AgsenZe and Kingshay, the company is helping ensure new technology is practical on farm, that it aids farmer understanding of cow welfare and provides greater and earlier visibility of potential cow mobility issues. This testing process in a commercial farm setting is essential, to realise practical on farm solutions that create enhanced transparency for retailers and consumers around animal welfare.

Ending his speech, Mr Wilkinson urged every farmer to look at their own farm through the eyes of a consumer.

“There is no them and us. We are all consumers, but not everyone is a farmer. We have to help people - many of whom have spent little to no time in the countryside or on a farm - understand dairy better. To do this, every farm and every farmer needs to be at their very best.”