Voiceless – what a farce you are

I have been very quiet in the social media space over the last month, in the main because I just wasn’t sure how I could best value add to the discussion. I just sat there shaking my head in bewilderment when people like Lyn White from the animals extremist’s group Animals Australia who is apparently such a saint that multiples of people feel she is worthy of the title of Australian of the Year. This month brings us the report commissioned by Voiceless about the Australian dairy industry that garnered enough attention from the media that I turned my phone off for three days so I wouldn’t have to field calls from the media who wanted to turn the Voiceless agenda into one of the top 3 issues impacting on the health, wealth and happiness of every single Australian Well Voiceless and Lyn White I would like you to meet Michael Strong. A young man I met 40 years ago who at that time was working as a brickie’s labourer whose most likely career option 40 years ago was a professional rugby league player michael strong Unbeknownst to the young girl who fell madly, deeply in love with him his lifelong dream was to be a dairy farmer 40 years later Voiceless don’t you dare tell me Michael Strong doesn’t love his cows more than life itself Don’t you dare tell me, he doesn’t wake up every day with the welfare of those cows at the forefront of his mind? Don’t you dare tell me that Michael Strong doesn’t wake up every day with the aim of producing the best quality nutritious, safe, affordable milk he possibly can for Australian families Don’t you dare tell me Michael Strong doesn’t wake up every morning with the aim of giving his cows the best possible life he possibly can? And Voiceless don’t you dare tell me that the person that I most love in the world doesn’t love his cows more that life itself  because I know Voiceless that if Michael Strong was forced to chose between the young girl  who loved him madly, deeply and the the cows – he would chose the cows .

FYI for all those people like me saying where is that man’s helmet? We now have a much safer option to the quad bike

Michael and Cows in Front of House on Gator

Please if you have read this post – please read my follow up Voiceless – I thank you for starting the conversations the dairy industry had to have 


Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

12 thoughts on “Voiceless – what a farce you are”

  1. I am not sure what these heartfelt words are trying to achieve? Someone loving their cows does not necessarily translate into caring for their cows as this present society expects them to. The threshold to perceiving cruelty and fairness in this world has changed significantly over the past 100 or so years. Where once the owner would feel he was good and kind to his much loved slaves, now even the notion of having a slave is not accepted. Where once the egg farmer that so cared for his hens kept in cages was appreciated, now, they are looked upon shamefully. Dairy farmers, whether or not they perceive themselves as practicing cruelly, really need to listen to consumers as one thing is 100% for sure, if they don’t, they will be fighting a losing battle just like the caged egg farmers have and are still doing. Not all dairies practice outside societies expectations. There are a few that can boast relatively (consistent with today’s expectations) contented stock. Most, however, fall into the head in the sands, fight back, illogical diatribe as this post has. Listen to what the consumers want and give it to them at a higher price. Makes sense.

  2. Happy contented cows produce milk, the happier the cows, the more milk is produced. How about attacking food retailers who make Billions in profit, yet buy food at essentially cost of production prices or from outside of Australia, leaving Australian farmers with little money in their pocket to spend on making the lives of their stock more pleasant and productive.

    1. Hi Chris, Think you have missed my point re consumer expectations in this present world. Understand what you are saying but won’t resolve the issues. Dairy farmers will 100% lose unless they work along with consumer expectations.

  3. Please excuse my ignorance Linda – what experience do you have to talk about the dairy industry, educate consumers about production (and effects of national exports and impacts)?
    Really would love opportunity to talk to you and, if you want, arrange for you to meet dairy farmers so you can discuss concerns and farming issues and relay the real facts to the public/consumers. Regards K Allan

    1. I know very little except that consumers change their expectations and I live smack bang in the middle of dairy farmer country and I do love my neighbours however see that their practices have to change to match today’s expectations of animal welfare.
      I am not the one to discuss things with anyone. The dairy industry needs to discuss with those that represent consumers and that will be Voiceless etc. otherwise for sure, you guys will be fighting a losing and stupid battle ( like the egg farmers are). People won’t stop eating dairy if dairy changes it’s practices. More and more people are becoming vegans due to the farmers rigid way of thinking.

      1. What if consumers expectations are unrealistic? Life (and death) isn’t a Disney production.
        I am not a farmer. I am a consumer of shop bought food.
        The general public see what they are shown. If it is a slick anti animal farming campaign. They are duped into thinking that the bad end of the spectrum, that has been marketed toward them, is the norm.
        People aren’t coerced into a protein prejudiced lifestyle, by rigid thinking family farmers. But by an unrealistic anti-animal farming industry.

      2. Yes Janelle
        You have bought a very important issue to the table in this discussion. Too often people in first world countries have the luxury of not having to worry too much about feeding and clothing their families and focus on causes that their energy would be better spent elsewhere
        For example I dont read newspapers much these days ( because it depresses me) and when I was waiting for a coffee yesterday and the service was terrible I glanced at a copy of the Telegraph and was just horrified to see that ISIS had burnt some-one alive to make a statement and half a dozen other things that showed how horrible humans can be to humans.
        To be realistic people will be kinder to animals when they get kinder to each other. HT Erika Chesworth
        All that said we all have a responsibility
        Consumers to have realistic expectations and be prepared to pay for the true value of food
        Farmers to respect the animals they have in their care and give them the best life they possibly can

        Tracey Russell put a wonderful comment on my Facebook page. She said something along the lines of “I would much rather be a cow being put on a truck to go to the abattoirs to provide a valuable source of protein at the end of my life on the dairy farm that lie in a hospital bed withering away from cancer or living in a nursing home not knowing who my family is because I have dementia”

        Yes its time for us all to truly value our food and fibre and the wonderful animals and natural resources this country has (in such scarcity) that provide it

        Thank you Janelle for taking the time to show you care by writing on my blog

  4. I think the reality is that the farmers Voiceless have in mind do not represent the average Australian farmer of today. The average Aussie dairy farm is run by a family looking after about 260 milkers – hardly a factory farm.

    On the other hand, I do wonder if Voiceless is ahead of the game. Where are we headed? With more and more corporate investors eyeing off dairy as a way to make a lot of money as their driving force, the Voiceless view of dairy might one day become a reality.

  5. Perceptions tend to change by degree, though “crystalisations” do happen where people go from one extreme to the other. Where once the owner would feel he was good and kind to his much loved slaves, now even the notion of having a slave is not accepted. Where once the egg farmer that so cared and loved his hens kept in battery cages was appreciated, now they are looked upon shamefully. Veal crates, dog fights, bull fights, women votes, life goes on and as we have evolved, so has our extension for empathy to both non human and human animals (we tend not to burn witches nowadays and capital punishment is generally not appreciated). Whether or not individual people agreed with the above changes is not the issue. The majority of humans did…eventually. History and extrapolation of such should teach us something?

    There is much research that supports kindness and empathy to animals needing to come before that to humans to best decrease domestic violence, incarceration rate, etc.

    “I would much rather be a cow being put on a truck to go to the abattoirs to provide a valuable source of protein at the end of my life on the dairy farm that lie in a hospital bed withering away from cancer or living in a nursing home not knowing who my family is because I have dementia”.
    My question : Is there a path between? Does everyone die withering away from cancer or living in a nursing home? Does everyone in a nursing home hate it? Give me the hospital bed to slip away with my friends and family around any day.
    However, what Tracey says has genuine merit in that should we also be eating our dogs, cats, horses (way more efficient than cows) and….whatever else dies on the road for a “valuable source of protein” which in turn would decrease our needs for factory farmed produce?

    “What if consumers expectations are unrealistic? Life (and death) isn’t a Disney production” and “Yes its time for us all to truly value our food and fibre and the wonderful animals and natural resources this country has (in such scarcity) that provide it “. If practices cannot change, then we must ask the question is the price (suffering of the animal) worth the taste? That question will be answered by the consumers.

    I guess when Patty Mark first notified the world of the plight of battery hens, it was a minority who could see and empathise with what she saw. Perhaps she was in error and the public was duped with a subsequent Animal Lib media role out? Even if the public is being duped, manipulated to think animals do suffer similarly to non human animals, history has shown farmers do best when they embrace what consumers want.

    Realistically, all people will not stop eating animal protein however, the degree to which it is consumed is likely to significantly change. Most people are happy to pay that bit extra for free range eggs. At the end of the Dairy Industry report campaign, my guess is there will be a lot of people decreasing or removing dairy from their diet only after they looked, but were unable to locate, the cruelty free dairy produce in the supermarket.

    Voiceless is no silly organisation. It is made up of highly educated, intelligent professionals that have surpassed the average person’s notion of success in this western world. Make no mistake, they will be listened to. It may pay the dairy industry to remove its defences to come to the round table with them and the activist Animals Australia to find an acceptable compromise that is commensurate with today’s expectations of non-human animal husbandry. This is the cheapest, most efficient way for all.

  6. I believe farmers are stewards of the land. That is they care for all natural resources with the respect they deserve. For the most part, I think most Australian farmers do this. It disturbs me when ‘ intellectuals ‘ make broad and sweeping statements as to what happens on ‘most’ farms . Dare I say, this expert opinion may be largely based on a small window of experience or emotionally driven propaganda. What concerns me further is the short sightedness of individuals who set to destroy Australian farming families livelihoods and think their opinions will make one iota of difference to the overseas farmer in less developed circumstances.. Will first world intellectuals have impact on second world overseas farmers or their country of origin animal welfare policies? I think not..but by then these will be the only farms left from which to IMPORT OUR FOOD. I do agree that the best method for Australian farmers is to tackle the Bull by the horns..( with no animals hurt in this purely figurative analogy) and be proactive in highlighting what is done exceptionally well in the Dairy Industry and having transparent policies for those very SMALL minority of farmers who do not care animals with humane practices..

    1. The ability to discuss the grey areas and abstract will dictate whether a compromise and understanding between the non human animal activist and farmers are ever reached. Perhaps the dairy industry could reflect on the egg board history ( not too dissimilar??) wrt consumer expectations in this present era. Cage eggs were once argued for in a similar way that present day dairying is argued for. What has evolved is a generalised acceptance of ~1500hens per hectare. While only a few farms are meeting this standard, it is clear that this is what is deemed consumer acceptable in this day and age. From battery cages to barn laid to varying paddocks densities these are examples of the grey areas and changing perceptions of consumers.
      Taking the ” bull by the horns” attitude will see pain and suffering, huge wastage and stupid lawyer money go down the drain.
      Yes, transparency is required but not of policies but of on farm practices- open them all to the public, every single part of the process.
      The dairy farmer is at the bottom of the pyramid as all agriculture generally is. For this I can see the distress of calling into question their self concept and traditions on top of the beatings they are getting from big corporations. This is another separate yet connected argument. One that is important but should not be confused with the removal of unnecessary, traditional animal practices that cause suffering.

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