Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
At the Dorset Countryside Alliance point-to-point last February I was harangued by an irate dairy farmer waving a copy of the Sunday Telegraph which included a full page advert from a vegan group campaigning against the consumption of milk and dairy products. Whilst the Alliance does not have control of which adverts the Telegraph publishes his point was a perfectly valid one. It should not be possible for advertisers to make ridiculous claims about cows and their “babies” and to brand the dairy industry “inhumane”.
Unsurprisingly there were a number of complaints about this advertisement and earlier in the week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled on them. Extraordinarily it has ruled that the organisation Go Vegan World did not breach its code by claiming that “humane milk is a myth” leaving such groups free to label dairy farming inhuman in the future.
This is clearly nonsense, not just because dairy farmers are operating under some of the highest welfare standards in the world, but also because the dairy cow only exists to serve exactly the purpose that the ASA believes is inhumane. If it is inhumane to keep dairy cows then presumably it is equally inhumane to keep hens, broiler chickens, sheep and every other sort of livestock.
This way is insanity and the ASA has set a very dangerous precedent and when every sane authority on farm animal welfare, including the RSPCA is voicing concern, it looks increasingly isolated. The ASA is likely to have an opportunity to reconsider its decision as the complainants are considering an appeal. We hope that they do persist with the complaint and that the ASA takes a fresh look at the evidence.