NFU deputy president Minette Batters has hit back at ‘outrageous’ comments by a leading figure in the cricketing world about the dairy industry.
Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie sparked controversy and risked upsetting one of the county’s main sponsors after he said he hoped to see the dairy industry ‘shut down’.
The vegan former fast bowler, who was part of a successful Australian team in his playing days, also expressed his disgust at the fact cricket balls are made out of leather.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Mr Gillespie said he had not consumed any animal products for two years and ‘couldn’t be a part of a society which treats animals the way we do’.
He said: “I feel like I’m looking through eyes without blinkers on. We treat animals like s**t, we really do. And in my opinion there’s no justification for that.
“These slaughterhouses, dairies and piggeries, zoos. It’s cruel and it’s speciesism (the idea humans have greater moral rights than animals) at its very worst and I don’t want to be part of it.
“Hopefully one day the dairy industry can be shut down. I think it’s disgusting and wrong on so many levels. Slaughterhouses too.
"There are a lot of things we say in this world that are bulls**t. ‘Humane slaughter’. No one’s been able to explain that to me. How is killing humane?”
The high-profile Australian’s views were controversial without the added element that the team, which have been county champions for the past two years, is sponsored by The Wensleydale Creamery, producer of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.
The company’s logo appears on the Yorkshire team’s shirts.
Questioned on whether he risked upsetting the sponsors, Mr Gillespie said: “Yes, they are a sponsor. But it doesn’t mean I agree with what they do.
“It’s out of my control, just like the fact that cricket balls are made of leather. I’ll have it out with people, I don’t care. There’s nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in.”
Sandra Bell, marketing manager of the creamery, issued a diplomatic response.
"That’s a very bold statement and I need to understand a bit more about what he’s actually trying to say there," she said.
"We are very proud sponsors. Our milk comes from over 40 local farms with very high standards of welfare."
Mrs Batters, a Wiltshire beef farmer, described the comments as ‘outrageous’.
She said: "Coming just after Open Farm Sunday, we are very clear our farms are open for business. We are here, we are engaging with the marketplace, the dairy industry is not locked away behind closed doors.
"We proudly stand behind the high welfare standards of production we have and we have an incredibly varied dairy industry, which the UK should rightly be proud of."
"In these really challenging times we don't need people trying to use their position for influence over what people choose to eat and drink. That is absolutely outrageous."