Dairy farmers have blasted the Advertising Standards Agency [ASA] after it pulled an ad that claimed 'organic dairy farming is good for the land.'
The advert - which also said that organic dairy farming is good for a 'more sustainable future' - was placed in a local newspaper last November by dairy giant Arla, the fourth-largest milk producer in the world with annual revenues of £8.4 billion.
A reader contacted the ASA to report the claims, and the organization upheld the complaint, banning the ad for being 'misleading'.
Now the National Farmers Union [NFU] has hit out at the ASA, calling the ruling 'disappointing'.
NFU Dairy Board chairman Michael Oakes said: "It's been a long-held belief that that organic farming does hold benefits.
"We are frustrated with how the ASA works, and we'd be really interested to learn how they reach these decisions."
Arla - which owns numerous brands including Anchor and Cravendale - gave evidence in its defence to the ASA.
It said that a major principle of organic farming is treating the farm well - and that sustainability is 'at the heart' of organic farming. It also said the environmental impact was 'considered in every step of the production process'.
However the ASA concluded that consumers would interpret the 'good for the land' statement to mean that the overall production cycle of milk is positive for the environment.
It added: "We acknowledged that Arla had provided evidence regarding the organic farming methods used and that they believed this was more sustainable than non-organic farming.
"However, we did not consider they had substantiated that organic milk production had an overall positive impact on the environment, taking into account its full life cycle.We therefore concluded that the claim was misleading."
Ruling that the current ad must not be run again, the ASA added: "We told Arla Foods to ensure that in future they did not make environmental claim about their products unless they held sufficient substantiation."