Our social enterprise of the month for April is Free Range Dairy.
Who are they?
Free Range Dairy is a social enterprise working to create a free range option when buying milk and dairy products, just like choosing to buy free range eggs.
Where are they?
The founder Neil Darwent farms in Frome, Somerset. Free range milk is now available in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and Devon.
What they do?
The media is full of stories about the crisis in dairy farming, traditional British dairy farms disappearing from the landscape, farmers selling milk for less than it cost to produce. At the same time there is the threat of mega-dairies – larger, more intensive operations where cows are sometimes confined inside all year round.
Free Range Dairy had a really simple idea. They have created the ‘Pasture Promise’ – a simple set of standards that gives the assurance that the milk comes from cows that enjoy the freedom to graze in fields for at least six months of the year. Consumers get to know their purchase supports higher animal welfare standards and there is evidence that milk from pasture-grazed cows is healthier too.
Neil Darwent was winner of the BBC Outstanding Farmer of the Year award 2014.
Why do we like them?
Free range dairy is such a simple idea. And is a positive solution to a negative and critical debate about subsidies and supermarket pricing. Free Range Dairy suggests a different way – offer consumers the chance to pay a fair price for milk, just like they can for free range eggs. A true social enterprise – doing good business, for the planet and for people (and cows).