Of all the topics relevant to farming sustainably, or the ethics of dairy farming and cheesemaking, animal welfare is perhaps the most divisive. Activist initiatives can sometimes paint a picture of a dairy industry characterised by inhumane treatment and extreme suffering, suggesting that if the daily reality of the industry were exposed, no moral person would choose to continue to consume milk products.
In keeping with the spirit of this series, we wanted to explore the perspectives of some of the suppliers from whom we buy cheese, but not with the intention of moralising or reaching a conclusive end point. Instead, we wanted to give our colleagues and our customers a better perspective on these issues from the farmers’ points of view, which are presented less frequently and vocally.
We also recognise that, for those who believe that any sort of dairy farming is by its very definition exploitative, no amount of evidence or argument to the contrary is likely to change their minds. Our goal is not to convert, but rather to explore the issues with farmers who are working to maximise the quality of life of their herds while producing cheeses of the highest possible quality. We hope that in reading these interviews you gain a sense of some representative farmers’ mindsets, as well as their priorities for continued progress.