Quick Hit: Article on Polled Dairy Cows is Surprisingly Honest

(h/t Charlie)

The article, PETA wants dairy farmers to breed genetically modified cows, seems like it will be an opportunity to rail against the AR group people love to hate. Actually, it’s an honest discussion about dehorning and what validates genetic modification of cows (money producing traits, and that’s about it.)

I included a hopeful quote below, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.

N.B. The article does include detailed descriptions of dehorning, which could be triggering to some.

“There wasn’t an incentive to use them [polled cows] before because you couldn’t make money off of them. But right now they are very comparable. You don’t see a difference (in production), in the Holsteins especially,” Crull said.

Crull believes farmers will rapidly change toward milking polled cows once they see proof there is no decrease in production. “When a farmer has to make a choice about anything that is similar, they’ll always choose what is most convenient. And the polled cow is most convenient because they won’t have to deal with the dehorning anymore,” Crull said.

dairycow

Wisconsin Ag-Gag: What We Know, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do

What We Know

1. The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association is introducing the legislation, and Representative Nerison is sponsoring it.

2. We don’t know the entire text, but we know that the bill pertains to “recording or photographing at an animal agriculture facility without the consent of the owner.”

From this, we are extrapolating that the bill is an “ag-gag” bill, which criminalizes the whistleblowers from undercover investigations.

Why It Matters

1. If you care about animals (which, if you read this blog, you probably do), this bill is aimed at stopping undercover investigations, like those of Mercy for Animals, that expose horrible animal cruelty to the public. This video from Dannika Lewis’ interview with Melissa Tedrowe shows just a snippet of that cruelty. There have been two recent undercover investigations in Wisconsin, Andrus Dairy, and Wiese Brothers. Those links show much longer graphic footage.

2. It is a blatant affront to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

3. Hiding the conditions in which animals are raised to become food puts human health and our environment at risk, and it’s disrespectful to the public, who deserve to make informed choices.

For more on why this matters, or for suggested talking points, email alliance@allanimals.org.

What You Can Do (thanks to our friends at HSUS and MFA!)

1. Leave a comment on the Wisconsin Dairy Producers’ Facebook Page letting them know how you feel. My example:

 
Please reconsider. Consumers deserve transparency. “Report not Record” is a catchy slogan, but not a good reason to take away that transparency. Employees may not feel comfortable telling their boss what they see simply because of the power differential. Having concrete evidence can help them come forward.
 
Wisconsin is the Dairy State, and Wisconsinites deserve more from the people who gave it that name. Please make a stand for informed consumers, exposed animal abusers, protection of human health and the environment, and upholding of free speech and free press and withdraw your support from the ag-gag bill.

2. Contact your legislators and use your own words or borrow HSUS’s suggested text:

“As a constituent, I encourage my legislator to oppose the ag-gag bill. Whistleblowers who expose animal cruelty and food safety violations on factory farms should be thanked, not punished.”

3. Send a letter to the editor (keep under 250 words). Here’s mine:

As an animal lover and lifelong Wisconsin citizen, I was disturbed to hear about the Wisconsin Dairy Industry and Representative Nerison’s proposed new bill. The bill would criminalize photography and video of farms taken without the owner’s permission. Such a bill is a shocking violation of free speech and freedom of the press. In addition, it keeps consumers in the dark, threatens public health, and hurts animals by shielding animal abusers from public scrutiny and criminal liability. 

There is a name for this type of bill – “ag-gag.” Had it been law just a few months ago, it would have prevented the undercover investigation at Andrus Dairy in Birnamwood (WI), which uncovered workers shooting cows in the face with high-pressure water hoses, cutting off their tails, and more egregious abuse. 

Wisconsin has some of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the nation. Yet, instead of strengthening these laws, our lawmakers choose to penalize whistleblowers that bring animal cruelty to the public’s attention. Undercover investigations are a major form of transparency between industrial agriculture and the public. I don’t understand why the Wisconsin Dairy Industry fears that transparency. If dairy farmers’ practices are so ethical, what are they afraid of?

I encourage my representatives to vote no if this bill finds its way to them. The Wisconsin I know and love deserves more.

4. Share the above videos of undercover investigations and the HSUS alert with others.

5. Thank the news studios and news casters who have covered the issue so far. You can comment directly on the article or send feedback to the organization.

Dannika Lewis, Channel 3000

NBC Green Bay

Wisconsin Gazette

Feel free to add any I missed in the comments.

Thank you to HSUS and Mercy for Animals for all they have done and are continuing to to, and THANK YOU for your swift attention and action. Let’s stop this thing and keep Wisconsin transparent!

Please email alliance@allanimals.org with any further questions.

The Dairy Industry is Running Scared

According to the AP’s article, Milk Industry Fights Back Against Anti-Dairy Folks. (h/t Ann)

Check out these numbers:

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people drank an average of 14.5 gallons of milk a year in 2012. That’s down 33 percent from the 21.8 gallons a year in 1970.

Total milk sales volume has declined 12 percent since 2009, according to market researcher Euromonitor International.

Its main competitor?

This guy.

…retail sales for almond milk are estimated to be up 39 percent last year, according to Virginia Lee, a packaged food analyst with Euromonitor.

The article talks about a brand new campaign that’s supposed to set the record straight on dairy’s health benefits. Interestingly, the only health information quoted in the article is this:

…the British Medical Journal published a study suggesting drinking lots of milk could lead to earlier deaths and higher incidents of fractures. Even though the study urged a cautious interpretation of its findings, it prompted posts online about the dangers of drinking milk.

I’m really impressed by the depth of the coverage. I didn’t think that most people knew about that study!

Just when you think this article couldn’t get any better, our people even get a shout out!

Animal welfare groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are also a thorn in the milk industry’s side. On its website, PETA notes that “no species drinks milk beyond infancy or drinks the milk of another species” and details the cruel conditions dairy cows are often subject to.

That’s one of the reasons Valentin Vornicu, a 31-year-old resident of San Diego, California, said he stays away from milk. Vornicu became a vegan four years ago and says he has more energy and has never felt better.

“It looks like a scene from the Matrix. ‘You see a picture of that and you’re like, I’m drinking this? ,” said Vornicu, citing footage he’s seen of cows hooked up to milking machines.

It’s exciting to win anything in this field, because the losses are so great. Of course, cheese is still a major product, but the fact that milk is on the way down is really heartening, because it may mean fewer cows have to suffer in the role of dairy cow.

When the Farmed Animals Committee tables at local events, we hand out samples of tofurkey sausages and different flavored almond milks. People are still wary about the tofurkey, but almost everyone takes a sample of almond milk. To add to the anecdata, a family that I babysat for very regularly a couple of years ago was the most anti-vegan family I’ve ever met – but their refrigerator held almond milk.

Oh almonds, what can’t you do?

To learn more about the dairy industry, check out Humane Myth’s Happy Cow slideshow. (N.B. the images aren’t super graphic, but they may be upsetting.) For alternate perspectives, here is a neat infographic, my favorite article about the mother-child connection called Don’t Take the Babies, a similar article called Veganism is For Mothers,  and Ari Solomon’s The Feminist’s Dilemma.

Or, if you’re the rare guy reading this article (hi! way to counter the statistics!), you can always rely on this advice from Pumping Iron:

If you live in the Madison area, you can get non-dairy alternatives at coffeehouses like Barriques, Starbucks, and, of course, Mother Fool’s. (I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of others! Feel free to comment below.)

And as always, if you want some help transitioning to plant based milks, check out our vegan mentor program. You can get cooking advice, schedule shopping trips, or just talk out your concerns with your mentor, one on one.

Why Eating Animals Is a Social Justice Issue


I don’t eat lamb…You feel guilty. It just feels kind of like…they are very gentle. Well, cows are [gentle, too, but] we eat them. I don’t know how to describe it….It seems like everybody eats cow. It’s affordable and there are so many of them but lambs are just different….Seems like it’s okay to eat a cow but it’s not okay to eat a lamb…the difference is weird.

Interview subject: 43-year-old meat eater

I don’t [think of animals raised for meat as individuals]. I wouldn’t be able to do my job if I got that personal with them. When you say “individuals,” you mean as a unique person, as a unique thing with its own name and its own characteristics, its own little games it plays? Yeah? Yeah, I’d really rather not know that. I’m sure it has it, but I’d rather not know it.

Interview subject: 31-year-old meat cutter

Consider the above statements. A meat cutter wouldn’t be able to carry on with his work if he thought about what he was doing. A meat eater is affectionate toward one species but eats another and has no idea why. Before being asked to reflect on their behaviors, neither of these individuals thought there was anything odd about the way they relate to the animals that become their food, and after such reflection their awareness quickly “wore off.” So the meat cutter kept the unpleasant reality of his job at bay and continued to process animals, while the meat eater suppressed his mental paradox and continued to eat them.

Read article here:
Carnism: Why Eating Animals Is a Social Justice Issue | One Green Planet.

Melanie Joy, Ph.D., Ed.M. will be the guest speaker at Alliance for Animals’ Vegantines Dinner on February 11, 2012.

She is the author of the acclaimed Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism. Dr. Joy is a Harvard-educated psychologist, personal/relationship coach, professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and celebrated speaker.