Those who would build mega-dairies in Britain may not believe that cows belong in fields, but the majority of the public does. Yet while there's been some success by campaigners fighting specific intensive cattle farms, there does seem to be a steady creep toward larger, more intensive, and indoor-only cattle rearing operations in Europe.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is about to fight back.
Citing the statistic that 67% of all cows in Denmark never feel the sun or chew a blade of grass, the WSPA is launching a new campaign to save Europe's disappearing cows and keep them out in the open where they belong:
The 27 countries of the European Union make it the world’s largest producing region of cow milk. The farming of dairy cows is currently under threat of intensification as more cows are becoming housed indoors. We want to halt the development of intensive dairy farming in the European Union. Failure to act on this threat represents a high risk of irreversible change with extreme consequences for our food, farmers and communities, locally and nationally.
You can support our campaign for humane, sustainable, pasture-based systems for milk production by playing your part. We are asking consumers to put pressure on retailers by asking questions about the origins of their milk and the welfare of the animals that supply it. Retailers can provide better information about their milk sources and the welfare of the cows that supply it. WSPA will continue to lobby in Europe for positive policies that support a pasture-based dairy industry that supports farmers and their livelihoods.
Of course animal welfare is not the only ethical concern when it comes to cattle farming. Cows are a major contributor to climate change, and livestock can be a major cause of soil erosion. But we can't fight these problems by confining cows to inhumane and unnatural conditions.
It's far better for us all to cut back on meat and dairy consumption instead, and when we do consume meat and dairy products, we do so from cows that have been allowed to be cows. And for those who decry government meddling in our dietary choices, let's not forget that the Government's across the globe subsidize meat and dairy production at astounding levels - effectively meddling in our dietary choices by making animal products artificially cheap. Permitting inhumane intensive farming to keep prices even lower is just one more example of such distortion.