09 May Another Dairy Ad Disguised As Journalism
The Financial-Legal-Military-Industrial-Meat-Medical-Pharmaceutical-Media Complex
“I wouldn’t be in the industry if I didn’t love my cows”: The reality of working on a dairy farm.
Mandy Nolan, for mamamia.com.au
Mamamia is an Australian opinion and lifestyle website targeted at women. An online hub for ‘women’s news’ and opinion spanning many topics, with an estimated 100+ contributors. Due to their large base of content creators and their seemingly-never-satiated audience, the website has the ability and inclination to churn out a large amount of new content on a rolling, constant basis. Stories arrive briskly but may only stay at the top for 10 or 20 minutes, as they soon become another juicy piece of clickbait on a never-ending scrolling banner that makes up the website’s main page.
Under their ‘Real Life’ section, Mamamia treats their readers to Mandy Nolan’s interview with dairy farmer Ebony King, a young woman responsible for the day to day running of a dairy farm in South Australia.
From the outset we are sold a bucolic paradise so often painted by those working in this exploitative industry. A fair dinkum, hardworking, Aussie Battler depiction of early mornings, antisocial hours and the love of working the land. This fantasy goes infinitely further (as is the go-to tactic of those in the animal harming industries) to proclaim that all this is done for the love of the animals, and that ultimately, unhappy animals will not produce a tasty product.
Ebony’s workplace ‘implements strict practices around animal welfare and environmental sustainability’. Considering her workplace is a dairy farm, this statement reads more accurately as farce. An industry in which essential standard practices include: forceful impregnation, separation of mother and baby, infanticide, exploiting individuals for their breast milk, the repetition of these violations until the individual can’t viably continue, with a final ride to a slaughterhouse to be hung up and have her throat slit. Dairy farms clearly don’t qualify as an authority on ‘animal welfare’. Surely in the best interests of this animals’ welfare, she is simply left alone. Click here for more on Dairy. As for environmental sustainability, dairy farms are amongst the worst offenders of environmental degradation. Their contribution to a host of environmental issues we are faced with today is significant. Dairy is one of the most unsustainable industries ravaging our planet today, demanding unfathomable amounts of fresh water, large areas of land, and producing waste, methane and nitrous oxide emissions in alarming quantities. To use the words ‘dairy’ and ‘environmental sustainability’ in the same sentence can only work in terms of a denouncement of the strongest nature. For a further exploration of dairy’s devastating effects on our planet, see an unbiased and balanced article from Business Insider at: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/there-are-a-lot-more-problems-with-the-dairy-industry-than-the-price-of-milk-2016-5
Let’s give Ebony the benefit of the doubt, however, and presume she has been told otherwise. Perhaps by her boss, second generation dairy farmer Rita Hurrell. Indoctrinated into this industry without choice, her cognitive dissonance towards the individuals she is inherently harming is a well-ingrained, learned behaviour absolutely essential to her ability to continually function in her role as a dairy farmer.
“You definitely develop a love for your animals” says Rita. “They all have personalities of their own and you always have your favourites. If you didn’t love cows you wouldn’t be a dairy farmer”.
The level of conflict this woman is experiencing can’t be underestimated: on one hand she is conceding that these individuals have sentience, unique character and nuance – to the point where she expresses a preference for some over others. Rita takes this even further for expressing her ‘love’ for the animals on her property. And yet she is responsible for subjecting them to tortures, miseries and trauma that the average person would not wish on their worst enemy. She is actively involved in the standard procedures listed above. Obviously, this isn’t the behaviour of someone who purportedly loves another.
Perhaps she believes her own spin: as someone who grew up around such barbaric processes, the industry standard practices would have been normalised in her own mind decades ago. Or perhaps she is the shrewd businesswoman: aware that perpetuating the mythology of gentle cows magically producing milk and eager to bestow their nutritional goodness onto humankind shifts more units and creates more capital. Whatever her internal thought processes, it’s ultimately not relevant: the issue is, these lies are continually being rehashed and reformed into mainstream puff pieces, relentlessly marched out across popular publications and forever shared via social media to audiences of hundreds of millions.
Of course, she goes even further down the humane-washing route to spout the obligatory buzzwords her concerned customers want to hear: there’s plenty of bragging about tree-planting and providing shade (an extremely basic provision essential to an animal’s life). The fate of male calves can even be glossed over with some clever wording, as ‘their farm is focussing on opportunities to reduce the number of bobby calves’. Here’s a thought: don’t forcefully impregnate someone. Problem solved.
Why would an online publication like Mamamia award the dairy industry with such a wonderful and unchallenged endorsement? The ‘article’ concludes with this disclaimer:
“This content is brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, Dairy Australia”. If the alternating flashing banner advertising dairy at the top of the piece didn’t give the game away, the significant blurb penned by PR experts at the end of the piece would leave no doubts.
This piece of ‘journalism’ is simply an advertisement for a dirty industry with impressive financial clout. Dairy Australia has made an art form of repackaging misery to appeal to the masses, and it is through these partner schemes that their immoral, misleading rhetoric can reach a wide range of potential customers. Most readers will take this ‘article’ at face value, comfortable in their choice to continue to support the dairy industry, placated in any concerns they might have regarding any mistreatment, and unaware that, once again, they are being conned by the Financial-Legal-Military-Industrial-Meat-Medical-Pharmaceutical-Media Complex.