Amid polarised debate, Emily Kasriel asks how dairy farmers see the role of their industry in climate change – and finds a mixture of doubt, denial and commitment to change.

“Nothing beats the feeling when you see a cow take its first breath, after battling to get it to breathe. I milk each cow twice a day every single day of the year, so they know I want the best for them,” says Hannah Edwards, standing proudly in the midst of the herd of Holstein cows she’s tended for the last 11 years. They are grazing on her favourite hillside, high up on the farm with a commanding view of peaks and valleys. “I love coming up here. On a clear day, you can see for miles. That’s Wales, Lake Bala is over there, and there you can see Snowdonia.”

With a growing public awareness of the importance of consuming less dairy to meet tough climate change targets, I’ve come to meet Hannah to try and understand how family dairy farmers see climate change. After climbing into her tall green wellies, I drive with her and her Labrador, Marley, to the farm where she works, spread across the border between Wales and Shropshire in the west of England. I want to test whether a communication approach called deep listening could help understand better the attitudes of dairy farmers to the environment and climate change.

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