Farm leader Mansel Raymond has urged the public to boycott Caffè Nero after it decided to stop taking milk produced by dairy farmers in the pilot badger cull zones.
Mr Raymond branded the High Street coffee chain’s decision a “total disgrace” as he briefed journalists about the dire situation in the EU dairy industry during a press conference in Riga, Latvia, on Tuesday (1 June).
“I think it’s a total disgrace. At the end of the day, there is more than enough evidence that wildlife does infect cows with TB,” said Mr Raymond.
“If people are not prepared to allow wildlife to be culled to prevent cows having TB, then to me, the society we live in is not fit to be in.
“For some protest group to have gone out and targeted Caffè Nero, that tells me that the Caffè Nero must be a very, very weak company. To have fallen for that is a bloody disgrace.”
Mr Raymond said “these people” did not understand what it felt like to be a dairy farmer trying to make a living and seeing your herd succumb to TB.
“They are quite happy for cows to go down with TB, but you mustn’t have a badger down with TB,” he added.
“What’s the rhyme or reason?”
Mr Raymond said the easiest way to clear up TB would be to give farmers the licence to clear up their own wildlife.
“Give farmers the licence and the job will get done,” he added. “Nobody is going out there willy-nilly to kill wildlife for the sake of it.”
He continued: “Why has TB escalated in the UK? Because there has been controls on wildlife.
“That is the only reason – and the politicians know it. We are no longer in control of our destiny as far as wildlife is concerned and the sooner politicians understand it and take the strength to do something about that, the better.”
Sainsbury’s and Starbucks have both refused to follow Caffè Nero’s stance.
Mr Raymond, chairman of EU farming body Copa-Cogeca’s Milk Working Party, said it would be “totally out of order” if any other companies followed Caffè Nero’s lead.
He was speaking during a press briefing, arranged by Copa-Cogeca, to celebrate World Milk Day where he outlined the future challenges facing EU dairy producers.
Mr Raymond, the twin brother of NFU president Meurig Raymond, farms 600 dairy cows with his family on a 1,400ha (3,500 acres) farm in Pembrokeshire.
On Friday (29 May), Caffè Nero said: “Caffè Nero has instructed its partners supplying to stores which are situated around the cull zone areas to supply milk from farms outside of the zone.
“We appreciate that this is an issue of concern for some members of the public.”
After a storm of protesters from farmers, who have said they will boycott the company for taking such a stance, the company issued a follow-up statement late on Monday night (1 June).
“At Caffè Nero, our people come first so when our team members’ well-being is under threat, we have to act. With just 2% of our annual milk supply impacted, we made what we feel was the right choice. We have ongoing consultations with the NFU and believe they understand our position.
“We are not intimidated by protestors. At the end of the day, we know that the authorities will support us if needed. However, we made a decision to limit any risk to our people as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, the Badger Trust has stressed that is not involved in the campaign against retailers or Caffè Nero.
“The Badger Trust is firmly opposed to any threats or intimidation by groups or individuals against these businesses, their premises or staff.
“The Badger Trust sees no connection between the continued unnecessary killing of badgers and the government’s austerity programme, and will therefore not be involved in any capacity in the anti-austerity protest march taking place in the City of London on 20 June.”