With #Februdairy well underway across social media, the industry has been warned not to back down on its efforts to promote the industry.
Speaking at NFU Council this week, NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said the industry was up against young people with young families who were facing the decision of whether to cut their consumption of meat and dairy following campaigns such as the recent #Veganuary.
He said instead of going head-to-head with vegan activists, the industry should be engaging with people wavering ‘whether they should go for dairy or not’.
“There is a whole load of millennials out there with young families who are sitting there thinking, ‘Should I stop eating meat? Should I stop having dairy in my diet?’,” he said.
“If we lose those it is worse because we lose their children too.”
Mr Oakes championed the newly reshuffled Department of Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs (TDDRA) consumer campaign for its spoof adverts including: ‘Announcing: A continued era of cooperation between mac & cheese’ and ‘Easy like a sundae morning’ which he said were acting to remind people ‘why they love dairy’.
He said: “One of the guys [Edd Kimber] who won the Great British Bake Off is now TDDRA head of butter.
“We might not know who he is but the consumer definitely does.
It came as chairman of the National Pig Association Richard Lister said the team was looking for was more coordinated approach from all sectors in the industry to work towards ‘a more empathetic approach’ to dealing with vegan incursions.
Although he confirmed the challenge was ‘at the top of [our] list’, he persuaded farmers to raise their game in terms of security as over the years pig units had been left unlocked and it was easy for people to walk straight in.
He said it was tricky for the sentencing council to act on shed walk in’s because there would be no legal offence.
“There is a lot of basic things people can do which needn’t cost them a great deal of money,” Mr Lister said.
“There is also things in terms of dealing with the media which can be very difficult and very personal; it moves into a level of harassment.
“It is not about them, it is about our industry. It is about standing up for what we do, standing up for the people who are going about doing a decent, proper job that they should be free from such harassment.”
Suffolk farmer George Gittus added: “They [vegans] are really genuinely putting fear into lawful people going about their lawful way of life.”