At present several campaign groups are listing boycotts on their websites as part of a broader badger cull campaign.

These include:

  • Animal Aid Against the cull as it is based on flawed science. Promotes a dairy boycott on its website as Animal Aid is a vegan organisation.
  • Gloucestershire Against badger shooting lists business and tourist firms that are ‘badger friendly’.
  • Save Me Campaign Founder Brian May called for a boycott of milk products from the cull zones in 2012.
  • Stop the Cull is currently calling for a milk boycott of Sainsbury’s. Stop the Cull is choosing to focus on Sainsbury’s to get the issue onto the high street. They are not calling for a boycott of all dairy products from the cull zones, rather a boycott of milk from these two retailers.
  • Viva! Viva! consider the issue of bovine TB to be caused by the dairy and beef industry as a whole. They are therefore running a UK wide dairy boycott as an attempt to save badgers. Viva! is a vegan organisation.


Background to the boycotts

During the 2012-2013 cull season there was varied enthusiasm for a badger friendly milk campaign as a method of opposing the trial badger culls.

Brian May from Save Me and Gavin Grant, previous Chief Executive of the RSPCA, were the key drivers behind badger friendly boycott calls, with Stop the Cull and Viva! continuing to actively implement milk and a full dairy boycott respectively.

The rationale behind these calls was based on the notion that dairy farmers and the problems they experienced with bovine TB were the key drivers of the cull, both economically and motivationally. Encouraging consumers and retailers to apply economic pressure on dairy and/or beef farmers was therefore deemed the natural focus for a badger friendly boycott campaign.

However, time has passed. The 2012-2013 trial culls were deemed ineffective and inhumane by the government’s independent expert panel; plans to role out the cull to ten other areas within England have been dropped; the communities and farmers living within the cull zones are reportedly increasingly fed up with the badger cull. But, the cull was repeated in 2014 and is set to continue.


Boycott options – what do you think?

Support is generally high for boycotts of the products of farmers and landowners which belong to cull consortia and permit culling on their land.  Such products could include milk but also other produce such as cheese, meat and cereals.

However it is proving to be difficult to identify which farms within a cull zone are supportive of a cull and which are not.  Boycotting farms which oppose the cull within the cull zones does not feel right for many people.

In July 2014 Ethical Consumer conducted a survey of supermarkets and coffee shops to see whether there were more or less progressive positions being taken on the issue of buying milk from within the cull zones.  Almost all were non-committal.
Download the ‘Survey of supermarket policies on milk supply June 2014‘ as a PDF.

Given the lack of clear differentiation, starting with two high profile targets as Stop the Cull suggests, is as logical an approach as any.  If these two can be persuaded to change their positions, the boycott can move onto other companies on the list.

What do you think?  Are there better targets for economic pressure on this subject?

Join in the conversation on Ethical Consumer’s badger forums.