Down with Dairy

Animal Rebellion is calling on the dairy industry to transition to plant-based production by 2025 to address the catastrophic impacts its production has on the climate and animals. This needs to include a just transition for its workers.

We have targeted Arla, which supplies 10% of the UK’s milk, equating to 2.7 million litres per day. 150 vehicles deliver raw milk each day and 1.1 billion litres are produced every year.

In the early hours of 31st August 2021, around 50 protestors occupied the distribution centre of Arla Foods near Aylesbury. Thirty activists locked themselves onto bamboo structures and concrete barricades. 

The action is part of a sustained campaign, which saw a march and blockade of the Arla factory by Animal Rebellion in March the previous year.

Speaking during the 2021 action, Animal Rebellion spokesperson, James Ozden, said: “The recent IPCC report issued a code red warning on the impacts of the climate crisis. It spoke of a need for urgent action from our government to address carbon emissions, including methane, which is in large part a by-product of animal farming. 

“Companies like Arla claim to be leading the way in tackling the climate crisis, yet until these big multinationals start to talk seriously about the inevitable need to transition our food system to one that is plant-based, their words are empty.” 

Thirteen of the world’s largest dairy corporations, including Arla, together emitted more greenhouse gases in 2017 than major polluters BHP and ConocoPhillips, mining and oil giants respectively. 

In the next decade, extreme weather is expected to lead to unstable crop supplies for the 2.65 million dairy cows in the UK while higher temperatures will mean that dairy cows are expected to be exposed to heat stress for two extra months in the year. The climate crisis means that supplying the demand for cows’ milk will soon be simply unviable.

“The dairy industry abuses animals, the planet and workers, who are increasingly squeezed by big business,” said Ozden, “Arla say they’re pro-worker but lobby for supermarket contracts that sell milk for less than water. We’re not just demanding that Arla go plant-based by 2025, we’re demanding that the government supports companies like Arla by funding a just transition for workers in meat and dairy industries to just and sustainable alternatives.”

A protester being taken away by four police officers outside Arla HQ

The first protesters were taken away around noon the next day, as police cutting teams arrived on site and removed activists from one of the bamboo structures. All protestors were removed from blockades by 10:30pm after almost 20 hours. The group then camped at the site overnight.

One of the 16 protestors arrested, Dillon Parsons, spent 17 hours on one of the bamboo structures. One of the last two to be removed, Dillon and his fellow campaigner held out as long as possible, refusing all offers to come down quietly. “It was just the two of us left. As soon as we were down, that was it, the trucks could go in and out. It was just us two standing between this factory being open so we were like, there’s not a chance we’re removing ourselves from here.” 

He reflects: “Signing petitions doesn’t work. No one listens to a piece of paper. I just know that through these actions and disruption, this is how people listen to us. I’d rather put myself in these vulnerable situations than just sit at home and let these companies destroy our world.”   

Further reading

There is an alternative to dairy – see the merits of non-dairy milks here:

Want to be part of direct action for climate and animal justice? Sign up to volunteer now and join the rebellion. 

You can read more about some of those involved in our campaign against Arla here.

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