Many of us have seen or heard of the recent Fair Oaks undercover videos showing disturbing animal abuse at a Northern Indiana.
Dairy Farm Social media is filled with animal rights groups who are raging against animal cruelty and blaming the entire dairy industry. An average person may be sitting in a cubical eating a small yogurt cup and shaking his head, trying to understand what kind of person would harm a baby cow. The continual stream of negative attention is making it seem like the entire industry is nothing more than cows that are slaves to corporations and that baby cows are being beaten daily. The facts about the dairy industry are dramatically different, but at this moment, these details are irrelevant to the average consumer.
Somewhere in the US that person is tasting the last yogurt cup he will ever purchase and will instead quietly start buying almond yogurt from now on.
The dairy industry is in real trouble.
After four consecutive years of depressed milk prices, the industry was looking forward to the third and fourth quarters of 2019, which were projected to see increases in milk prices and give the remaining dairy producers some much needed financial relief.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) just announced that the US has lost 2,700 dairy farms last year alone, and that the rate of dairy farm suicides is currently higher than that for veterans.
For example, Wisconsin lost 915 farmers to suicide in 2017 at least in part due to the hardships attributed to the financial losses in the industry. The relief to the industry was projected to start in 2019 and continue to increase over 2020, but after the Fair Oaks exposure the dairy industry may see a continuation of the depression or even worse, a further slide down.
Those of us who work in the dairy industry understand that these were completely isolated incidents, perpetrated by employees who had only been on the farms for a few short months.
We understand that they were immediately terminated and are now facing criminal charges, but can we truly blame the general public for not understanding? I have personally been on hundreds of the largest dairy farms in America and have never once observed anything even close to what was captured in the videos.
To the contrary, I have only seen the farms that will not even allow the employees to speak loudly to the cows or move them around by whistling. The vast majority of dairy farmers take great care of their cows, because they know that a content cow produces better tasting and higher volumes of milk.
The employees of Fairy Oaks have been terminated and may be charged criminally, and Fair Oaks has been terminated as a supplier of Fairlife. The link below is Fairlife’s response to this incident, but I would bet the general public is completely unaware of that actions taken.
Now, after videos of isolated incidents at a single farm, the entire industry is being persecuted and the already financially stressed farmer is about the take the brunt of it.