The Archers has been covering the megadairy controversy for several months and today it is due for decision. Though a midlands boy and avid radio 4 listener their is something which really annoys me about the programme, so usually I switch over to radio 5 lives when its on, and often am too busy to switch back, which is good because I then dont have to remember to switch over for Richard Bacon.
Several tweets though confirm today is the day and the EA advice still isnt known. So will Brain Aldridge get his permission.
The long-standing show’s agricultural advisor Steve Peacock told Farmers Guardian the storyline had generated a mixed response from the public.
He said: “While we know that there are not many zero grazing, housed dairy units on this scale in the UK at the moment they are already part of the industry and we thought the practical and ethical issues raised by the prospect of one being built in Ambridge would give us many dramatic possibilities.
“The debate among villagers has already started and I hope listeners will find the story informative as well as entertaining as it develops.”
The programme’s character Brian Aldridge is looking to invest in a high-tech, intensive dairy unit similar to the Nocton Dairies plan which attracted massive opposition in Lincolnshire.
Intensive units have proved profitable in the USA and mainland Europe, with many becoming an important part of the dairy farming landscape.
Speaking on behalf of British dairy farmers, RABDF chairman, David Cotton, said: “As an industry we are pleased The Archers is prepared to embrace topical issues and the diversity of the UK’s different farming systems.
“We would like to work more closely with the programme’s producers in order to make sure they are well versed and up to speed with the latest relevant facts.”
CEO of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), Philip Lymbery, said he was pleased to hear the BBC was addressing such an important issue.
He added: “The Archers writers have given the arguments a good airing but the character proposing the mega-dairy doesn’t seem to have absorbed recent findings on the economics of dairy production. If he had, he’d realise there’s no need for him to push cows to ever higher yields and limit their access to the outdoors. The best pence per litre net margin is from cows at grass.”
My guess is the usual BBC fudge will see the EA suggesting local water conditions prove it unsuitable, leaving the BBC off the hook in plonking a mega dairy in Ambridge or seeming judegmental on the welfare issues. And quite a realistic outcome that would be.