My wife Tori and I have just hosted the first ‘Disease? Not On My Farm!’ roadshow, where we showed some of the other ambassadors around our farm and shop. We also got to sit down and put the world to rights regarding the issues affecting us as farmers today.
We talked about farming with the consumer in mind, something which is always a priority for us, as every day in the shop we meet the people who eat our produce.
Our system is based on developing the quality product our consumers want, which is why we farm slow maturing breeds that were out at grass and finished well.
Listening to what our customers have to say also helps us to understand where the market is headed.
Animal health and welfare is important to our customers and they do ask questions, but they don’t always know what they’re asking.
For example, many people ask whether we are organic, because they believe that organic equals high welfare. It’s important we engage in fuller conversations about health and welfare and give consumers the full picture – which they might not get from social media or hearsay.
It was interesting to hear Fraser’s thoughts on consumer perception, given the growing negative press around dairy in recent years, and how it’s impacting his plans for the future.
He’s designed his new unit to allow access to grass, but the indoor system will be premium comfort, so he expects the cows will spend most of their time indoors.
In Fraser’s words, “the only way we can educate people is for them to see for themselves that cows happily make the choice to be indoors.”
Because of these pressures, I believe the farming industry needs to be more proactive in how we market what we produce.
After Brexit, the UK market could potentially be flooded with cheap protein, so we need to focus on marketing our USP - premium quality, high welfare products.