Dairy farmers on Scotland’s Isle of Bute are trying to add value to their milk by signing up to a “free-range” logo.
Producers showed their interest at meetings run by Neil Darwent and Carol Lever of the Free Range Dairy Pasture Promise label, which guarantees cows are grazed for at least six months a year.
Bute’s 13 producers all supply co-op First Milk and have seen their milk prices crash about 12p/litre during the past year.
Their landlord, the Mount Stuart Trust, has already offered to delay rent payments due in November, which would ease some financial pressure.
“Committing to a full six months of grazing the cows outdoors formalises what is virtually established practice here.”
But this new label could help farmers by marking out their distinctive production methods for shoppers, after many have expressed concern about different dairy systems.
Bute dairy farmer and local Scottish NFU chairman Aleck Nairn said the commitment to free-range dairy was about building on an already great product.
“The public want their products to come from cows that are able to live the type of life on a farm that in this part of Scotland we are able to give them,” he said.
Bute estate factor Bob Baines described the logo as “gold-plating” the island’s milk.
“Committing to a full six months of grazing the cows outdoors formalises what is virtually established practice here,” he said.
“Consumer research has shown that there is significant confusion amongst consumers about how milk is produced.”