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Letters to the Editor: Undercover videos

Published on 31 March 2014

After reading the article regarding so-called “expert” perspectives on undercover videos (“Experts provide perspectives on undercover videos"), there are no words to describe my unhappiness at the Center for Food Integrity panel, which was put together obviously with no farmer input.

Farming is much more than animal welfare, even though care of the animals is one of the priorities. Whether one likes it or not, profitability is the top priority.

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Despite Dr. Jim Reynolds’ claim of having 32 years of experience, he is completely out of touch with reality. Many people do not have sleds and loaders on machinery, and when cows get tangled in the freestalls or in other difficult-to-get-to places, a loader can’t be used anyway. The number one priority is to get the cow up as quickly as possible without spending extra money.

The delusion of not having to slap cattle when they refuse to enter facilities should never be considered abuse. Time constraints add up to loss. Even though some people think spending an extra half-hour enticing the animal to go somewhere is fine, they are not the ones paying for it. As for dehorning, millions of cattle have been dehorned without medication, and virtually all have survived.

We cannot allow others to dictate how we run our businesses, especially when it stems from personal emotions and opinions. That in no way should be misconstrued as a lack of compassion or a tolerance of true abuse toward animals.

Colleen Michaels
Wild Rose Farm
New Matamoras, Ohio

Caring for animals on dairy farm is a top priority

Just like you, I’m concerned every time there’s another undercover video released about a dairy farm.

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First, I’m saddened there were any real or perceived acts of animal mistreatment on any farm. And second, I’m worried that every time another video is released, it gives consumers one more reason to doubt our capability to provide safe, healthy milk in a way that treats animals humanely and with respect.

But I’m also concerned about what I’m hearing in my industry. It’s easy to become angry and condemn the activist groups’ integrity and methods they use. I understand that anger. These groups are questioning our life’s work and trying to put us out of business.

If you’ve never had to move a 1,500-pound downed cow – knowing every extra minute you spend troubleshooting is another minute she’s more likely to never get up – you shouldn’t be telling me how I can do it better.

What I hope our industry remembers is that animal care and compassion have always been our priority. Should we also be profitable? Absolutely, but never at the expense of animal care. I’m motivated to provide the best care to my animals because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s being dictated to me from a processor or customer.

Producing safe, quality milk and caring for dairy animals is the profession I’ve chosen; it’s also my passion. I take seriously the care for our animals, our land and the people in our lives. That’s the message I hope consumers remember if another video is released.

Dean Strauss
Majestic Crossing Dairy
Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin

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