We talk a lot about animals here on the blog — specifically dairy cattle. That’s not because the other food animals aren’t awesome, it’s just because I grew up on a dairy farm and have more firsthand knowledge about the way a dairy farm works and the way dairy farmers care for their cattle. I vividly remember Christmas get-togethers scheduled around milking time. Trust me, it’s hard to explain to a four-year-old that we’re going to eat lunch first, help grandma clean it up, then we’re going to sit and talk for a few hours while everyone goes out to milk before we open any Christmas gifts. It was excruciating.
Just like the most recent video released by Mercy For Animals. I’m not going to repost or link here, but the nutshell version is this:
Workers at a New Mexico dairy farm were caught on tape punching, kicking and whipping cows, tossing calves into truck beds, using heavy equipment to force sick animals into confined spots and committing other types of abuse.
Excruciating. And disgusting to say the least.
Dairy farmers across the country have come out on social media condemning the workers and reminding consumers not to throw the baby out with the bath water. In other words, there are thousands of dairy farmers out there, but there are not thousands of abusive dairy farmers.
Carrie Mess, over at Dairy Carrie, said it best:
“I hope that the people shown abusing cows in this video will be prosecuted and held responsible for their actions. I hope that they never are allowed around animals again. I hope that this will be a wake up call to any dairy farmer with employees to be watching their people more closely and to be more diligent in hiring compassionate and kind people to work with their cows. Most of all, I hope that you will not hold this video against our family and the rest of America’s dairy farmers because this is not how we do things. We love our cows.”
I’m sure that every dairy farmer echoes Carrie’s sentiment. But it was interesting to see a business — one that relies heavily on dairy to boot — follow her suit.
Here’s the story. Following the release of their video, Mercy For Animals called on Domino’s Pizza to “help end egregious animal abuse in the dairy industry by requiring all of its cheese suppliers to implement meaningful animal welfare policies.”
Company after company has been bullied as of late into implementing food sourcing strategies that are more likely to hurt their bottom line and do nothing to end animal cruelty, so it was nice to see Domino’s take a different approach. Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications for Domino’s, had this to say:
“No act of cruelty can ever be condoned. Ever. What we do know is that this is not an issue with our cheese supplier – it was an isolated case of sadistic acts by employees at a single dairy farm in southern New Mexico. That farmer, who is very likely reeling from this, has terminated the employees, turned their information over to law enforcement and has closed his operations after moving his cows to other farms (according to the Associated Press).”
McIntyre also said the group should be thanked for bringing the issue to light because “there is no room for this anywhere in the food industry,” but cautioned against thinking one dairy farmer is just like any other:
“America’s individual family dairy farms — 47,000 of them — are being painted in a horrible light due to the horrendous acts of a small group of individuals. That’s not fair to the hardworking farmers across America.”
Cheers to Domino’s. And cheers to the hardworking dairy farmers who do the right thing by putting cattle care and comfort ahead of their own, each and every day. I feel like a broken record as much as I say this and write about it, but it’s important. And anything this important bears repeating.
It’s not about the ribbons. It’s not about the (modest) milk check, even though that’s what pays the bills. It’s about doing what you love and loving what you do. Unfortunately, the farmer in question picked employees who didn’t fit either category.
And I know I say this a lot, too, but I’m going to keep saying it in hopes it will really sink in: If you have a question, ask a farmer! With social media, there are plenty of ways to do it these days. Here are just a few:
Have additional links? Share them in the comments below!