DAIRY FARMERS have reacted strongly to junior DEFRA minister Elliot Morley‘s comment, made on Friday (Oct 22), that dairy farming has “the biodiversity capacity of green concrete”.

Mr Morley made the remark at the announcement of the latest wild bird population figures from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Asked to expand on the issue, Mr Morley said he was referring to intensive dairy farming.

Peter Lundgren, founder member of the campaign group Farm, said: “This is a shallow and fatuous thing for the environment minister to say and shows a real lack of sensitivity for the drivers that are pushing dairy farmers to intensify.”

“We are losing small family farms and the wildlife they support because of horrendous financial hardship.

“This is largely because of this government‘s surrender to the supermarkets,” Mr Lundgren said.

Organic farmer John Burns from Devon said: “It gets to me this swiping at dairy, when the industry is on its knees. Morley also has a short memory.

“I was with him when he walked around a model family-run dairy farm in Devon, a real wildlife paradise. They‘re still in business, goodness knows how.”

Jim Paice, Conservative shadow rural affairs minister, has also criticised Mr Morley‘s statement: “This is extremely offensive to the countless dairy farmers in this country who are struggling to break even.

“We all want to see farms and birds thrive, but this won‘t be achieved by insulting farmers.”