For farmers, every day is Farm Animal Day!

September 30th, 2016

October 2nd marks World Farm Animal Day. If you are a farmer like me who has not heard of this day, you probably think animals do deserve their day, especially as we prepare to give thanks for the crops of another year. But this was not the reasons its founders dreamt it up – to protest the use of animals on farms. This day makes the generations of dairy farmers before me roll over in their graves.

Author Michael Buckley once said, “You can't judge the many by the actions of a few.” I have often applied those wise words in my life. On many occasions I have been verbally abused by a few vegan extremists through my social media channels. Yet, on the other hand I have vegan friends who respect what I do as a farmer. We have shared meals together, toured my farm together and talked openly about modern livestock farming and their choice to be a vegan. We learn from each other. Being a fourth generation dairy farmer and being surrounded by farming all my life, it's almost impossible for me to imagine a vegan life, but I respect all food choices and hope to receive the same respect.

Michael’s quote also applies to farmers. Yes, there has been abuse to animals by farmers but it's extremely rare and fellow farmers are quick to condemn it. Some people are abusive towards other people and people abuse their pets… but I know in my heart the majority of people, including farmers, are still caring and loving human beings. We farm because we love working with our animals. One should never paint all farmers or all vegans with the same brush because of the actions of a few.

While I expect social media will carry exaggerated videos, deceiving photos and manipulative posts condemning the livestock industry on this Day, activists will take the actions of a few farmers and claim animal abuse is rampant on all livestock farms. They will try to gain a following by tapping into human emotions and portraying farmers as evil. As a farmer I have a choice on October 2nd: I can turn off social media and spend all day in the barn with my animals or I can show the world the truth. I can show them that Canadian dairy farmers take pride in producing safe and nutritious dairy products that are free of antibiotics and added hormones. We are committed to providing our cattle with top-notch animal care through balanced diets, routine veterinary checks and comfortable living conditions. We follow a strict code of practice that is reflected in the proAction plan that is set out by Dairy Farmers of Canada. We are required to meet all the quality and welfare standards of our industry, which are enforced through inspections and fines.

As a farmer, I am at war against the misinformation that plagues social media. On October 2nd, I encourage you to stand with me and show the world that farmers truly do care for their animals. Farmers are members of your community. We are consumers. We have families that we love. We have feelings and we are deeply hurt by the lies brought forth by extremists. We dedicate our lives looking after our cattle seven days a week, 365 days of the year because we care. We realize that it's a privilege and not a right to be working with livestock. Farmers count for less than two percent of the population so we need your help to have our voices heard.

Farmers like me are working hard to give you safe, nutritious food that is produced with love and compassion so you can enjoy your food without guilt. If you want the truth, talk to a farmer.

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