Opinion: Dairy Farmers of Canada (Animal Abuse Video)

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Mijune

If you haven’t heard the recent news or seen the disturbing video on the alleged animal abuse, which took place at a Chilliwack farm in British Columbia, then you should watch it now. Yes, it’s horrible, awful, disgusting and cruel, but now what?

I read the statement from Saputo and Dairyland Canada and it’s everything I expected them to say, but I want to draw attention to the paragraph which states: “It should be noted all dairy processors are required, under provincial legislation, to purchase their milk through the BCMMB (British Columbia Milk Marketing Board) and we therefore do not have the ability to select the farms from which milk is sourced.” This is true.

The fact is that all dairy farmers within each province (with the exception of Vitala Foods in B.C.) put their milk in a pool that is then sent to an individual processor. Even organic milk has their own province-wide pool. Dairyland Canada happens to be the largest dairy processor in Canada. So just as the statement said, dairy processors have no control over which farm the milk is coming from. They cannot choose the farm. End of discussion – but maybe it should be for discussion. I don’t know how the policy works, but I’m sure some industry members, groups or activist, has already rallied for it before.

I’m by no means supporting animal cruelty or doing PR for Dairy Farmers of Canada, but I can’t help but to address the opinions and comments boycotting the entire dairy industry, let alone Dairy Farmers of Canada. Each to their own (and this is my own), but deciding to go dairy-free or vegan is not a solution.

“One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel” – exactly what’s happening here. It is completely unfair to boycott dairy products because of this unfortunate incident(s). There are still many local, ethical and small innocent dairy farms and farmers who will suffer as a result of this video and a potential boycott. The livelihood of these farmers are dependent on dairy processors and consumers, and since all their milk is pooled it is hard for anyone to control or know where exactly everything is coming from, but it’s not impossible.

At this point everyone wants their hands clean and all the denials of what was happening on that farm are hard to believe. I get it. Many people are skeptical and I’ve read many “I’ll believe it when I see it” comments, but doesn’t this mentality apply to everything?

How do you know the clothes you’re wearing aren’t stitched by 12 year olds getting paid $0.25 an hour? Because you made it yourself? Was it made from cotton? Who picked the cotton? How do you know though? How do you know where anything really comes from? How do you know your organic vegetables are really organic? How do you know your life isn’t The Truman Show? To be honest, the thought has crossed my mind.

But let’s go back to the “I’ll believe it when I see it” – okay, then go see it. Or is it easier to boycott? Go meet the farmers and see for yourself.

Some dairy farms open for visits in B.C. are Birchwood Dairy, Bakerview EcoDairyAvalon Dairy, Aldor Acres Dairy FarmGoat’s Pride Dairy at McLennan CreekThe Farm House Natural Cheeses, and of course Vitala Foods. And before you write off Chilliwack, don’t forget to check out Happy Days Dairies Ltd before making your decision. I haven’t visited all of them, so I can’t vouch for what I listed, but I’ve seen a few and will make efforts to see more. Don’t anti-dairy as a solution, but be pro-active.

I don’t know what happens on a daily basis, but at some point you just have to have faith and not all farmers are created equal. There are good and bad farmers because in the world there are good and bad (or sick) people.

Realistically, I’m not going undercover, and kudos to those who did in the video, and shame on those who knew of the abuse and remained silent, but how much can we question and how far are we willing to go before our minds are at peace? Will there ever be a guarantee? In life there is no guarantee.

There are still a lot of missing pieces and surely the BCMMB, Dairyland Canada, and dairy farms and farmers in general are under a lot of pressure. What’s happened is a blessing in disguise in the sense that everything will be put under a microscope (let’s hope) and policies will be revisited.

I don’t have a long-term solution, but I encourage research, fact checking, and asking questions before making a decision. Nothing is worse than a misinformed or uninformed decision. I’m not saying I never make them, after all I’m human, but avoid jumping on a bandwagon which causes a trickle down affect where innocent people suffer. The entire dairy industry doesn’t deserve to be creamed. I don’t want to judge your life decisions, but this is an opinion piece and I can’t help but to raise questions.

**Updated news: Saputo, producer of Dairlyland products, announced in a statement Monday, June 16, they were dropping sales with Chilliwack Cattle Sales. They do not own or operate any farms in Canada and SPCA is still investigating further. No charges have been made until case is taken and resolved in court.

 

Written by Mijune Pak aka Follow Me Foodie, you can read her full length opinion piece here. This is an opinion piece and not based on any extensive research, but I want to acknowledge the subject matter regarding Dairy Farmers of Canada.

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