We are all saddened when undercover videos show a few employees on a few dairy farms treating animals poorly. This does not represent the way animals are treated by dairy producers and employees throughout the industry! And, in fact, there is often more to the story.
Rest assured that dairy farm families are involved in dairy because we love cows, and we embrace challenges.
Our first priority is the comfort and well-being of our cows and calves. We enjoy caring for the baby calves and watching them grow and develop.
Dairy farm families treat their cattle like family.
The cows and calves are fed before we eat. Their health and well-being often come before our own. Dairy farming is both a business and a cherished way of life.
Nationally, 97% of dairy farms are family owned and operated.
The average U.S. dairy farm is 175 cows (Pennsylvania average is 100 cows). Farms of this size are operated mostly by single families.
In addition, most of the much larger farms are also still family-owned-and-operated. They have expanded as multiple generations of family become involved full-time together in the family dairy farm.
Whether 100 cows or 1000 cows, most farms hire employees for part-time or full-time help, employees that we train and put our trust in.
We look for employees who have the same care, concern and dedication to the animals that we do, and we train them to understand the excellent care we as dairy producers expect of ourselves and others when it comes to our animals.
Things to know about undercover videos
- Undercover employees are paid up to $800 per week by activist organizations only if video footage is provided.
- With financial incentive, videos can often be staged. According to the DA in a high profile 2019 case, witnesses confirmed that the ARM undercover employee himself coerced other employees into mistreating the animals so he could film them. That large farm has since taken steps to tighten their management and oversight.
- Even cases where videos are not staged, undercover employees are abandoning their duty and pledge to report abuse to supervisors or owners, immediately.
- These videos are held for 3, 6, 12 months, and then released for the purpose of raising funds for the activist organization and to tell the public to stop consuming milk and dairy products. This creates more financial hardship for all dairy farms, while the length of time before a video is released makes it harder to take legal action against the persons who actually did the abuse.
- In recent cases, most of the filmed employees were already terminated before knowledge of a video.
What is real for us as dairy farmers is the heart- felt hurt and responsibility felt by everyone who has nurtured a weak calf, stayed hours after a night milking and a long day of work to assist in a difficult birth, poured heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears into the care of the cattle and the land. This also hurts for all of the dedicated employees on dairy farms throughout the country, employees who love their jobs taking good care of animals. And it hurts for the veterinarians, nutritionists and other professionals working with cattle alongside the farms they serve.
Please bring your questions to the dairy farm families who put everything on the line every day to care for their cattle and produce a high-quality, whole- some product, and to professionals who work with cows and dairy farms daily. Many dairy farms have websites, social media and farm tours to learn more. Feel free to reach out to us also at 97milk.com