If the rules aren’t changed, Swedish dairy farmers will be drowned out of business by a flood of imported Danish milk, according to Per Andersson, head of Sveriges Mjölkbönder (‘Association of Swedish Dairy Farmers’).
“We can’t afford to have them outdoors. Things are going to hell in a handbasket for Swedish milk producers,” Andersson told the TT news agency.
The organization, which has around 1,000 members, thinks that dairy farmers who introduce new, ultra-modern and spacious indoor feeding environments, should be exempt from Sweden’s outdoor grazing rules, according to Sveriges Radio.
Andersson, who himself has 140 cows on a farm near Stjärnhov in Sörmland in eastern Sweden, supplies Danish-Swedish dairy giant Arla.
Increasingly, Arla is filling Swedish store shelves with Danish milk.
According to Andersson, Swedish dairy producers can’t compete against their Danish counterparts, who are allowed to keep their cows indoors year round if they wish.
Nor is it proven with certainty that Swedish cows are in better shape than Danish cows simply because they are allowed to be outside, said Andersson.
After all, he added, the cows are only outside a fraction of the year, thus making their indoor environment at least as important.
“They deserve a better indoor life than I can afford to give them,” said Andersson.
Andersson’s opinions, however, are not representative of all Swedish dairy farmers, according to Johan Taubert, spokesperson for the Federation of Swedish Farmers (Lantbrukarnas Riksförbund – LRF), which represents nearly 80 percent of the country’s dairy producers.
“A majority of Swedish dairy farmers support the outdoor grazing requirement,” he said.
At a recent meeting of LRF, a majority of members voted down a motion to get rid of the requirement.