National treasure and award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes OBE has publicly called on the UK government to offer financial support to farmers making the move away from dairy.
The straight-talking, no-nonsense actress – who is best-known for her roles as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and Sister Mildred in Call The Midwife – is fronting a petition to ‘remake our food system’ and defund the dairy industry.
Spearheaded by international animal protection organisation, Animal Equality, the plea calls for taxpayer money to be redistributed to subsidise plant-based alternatives, fund rewilding of land, and incentivise arable farming.
Margoyles – who is also urging the public to ditch dairy – believes this will “futureproof farmers’ jobs and create a kinder, more sustainable world in the process”.
According to Animal Equality, British dairy farmers have received over £56 million annually in direct government payments over recent years, making up nearly 40% of their profits.
In early 2022 the government backed the £1 million ‘AHDB dairy campaign’ to boost dairy milk consumption, while also providing dairy farmers with access to an additional £27 million under the Farming Investment Fund to cover costs of new equipment and infrastructure.
In a YouTube video narrated by the star, Miriam expresses shock after learning about legally permissible industry practices taking place within all of the UK’s 8000 dairy farms, including those accredited and certified as organic.
Paired with previously unpublished undercover footage taken at Madox Farm in Wales (which was previously the sit, the short film shows upsetting scenes of cows and their newborn calves being separated – a standard practice within dairy farming.
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“I know what it’s like to have a strong bond with your mother,” Maroyles said, adding that: “animals have that bond too”
She added: “We can encourage farmers to transition away from the dairy industry, helping them switch to growing sustainable crops that can be made into plant-based milk alternatives. The world is harsh, let’s make it kinder.”
Animal Equality’s executive director Abigail Penny agreed, adding: “Just like us, cows must give birth to produce milk. For humans to drink a cow’s milk, their young calves must be taken from them… We must end this cruel cycle of suffering by swiftly transitioning to plant-based alternatives.”
This is not the first time secret footage has been filmed at Madox Farm. Previous footage – captured by Animal Equality investigators and released via BBC One’s Panorama in February – revealed extreme abuse and neglect, including cows being kicked in the udders and hit in the face with shovels.
The exposé led to a media storm, with #GoVegan trending on Twitter and an army of celebrities sharing their concern publicly, including Peter Egan, Paddy McGuinness, Diane Morgan and Megan McCubbin.
One third of Brits are reported to be regularly drinking plant-based milk, making the dairy-alternative market worth nearly £400 million a year.