Real Ag uses a #TruthFilter

First things first – I love Instagram. You can share pictures, videos, or in my case… make your life seem way cooler than it actually is with just the right filter (there, my secret is out!). HOWEVER, just like many forms of social media, the best part about it is also sometimes the worst. Like when vegan accounts attack ag advocates and post bogus pictures and claims against animal agriculture.

Now I know I’ve preached and preached and preached again that sometimes, an argument isn’t worth it. And by that I’m specifically referring to consumers who think dairy cows belong roaming free in our living room instead of the (safer and more practical) range of their pasture. BUT – I’m going to push back on my own advice here for this blog post.

Below are pictures and captions shared by a vegan activist (the name shall remain anonymous – consider it my good deed of the day). While I could sit here all day and whine about it, I instead reached out to dairy and animal production specialists to speak on behalf of their industries and reveal the truth behind these outrageous posts. Except for the holocaust comparison – I’m going to comment on that one (cue smoke coming out my ears and nose).

Enjoy the #TruthFilter that these REAL ag professionals put on these pictures – it’s even better than Valencia (the filter that gives you abs and a great tan)!

em yeiser response

Emily – Dairy Specialist and Advocate

This photo does not depict how a farm takes care of their next generation. Just like babies, calves are fragile and their care is of the utmost importance to the farmer. All calves (boys and girls) receive their mother’s milk immediately after birth. Colostrum (mother’s first milk) kick starts the calf’s immune system. While the immune system is kick-started, it’s still not fully developed so extra individual care from the farmer is necessary. You wouldn’t take a newborn child and throw them in the ball pit at Chuck E Cheese right away, right? Too many germs, too many unknown yuckies that newborns’ immune systems can’t handle yet. So, the calf is moved away from their mom so that this extra care and attention by the farmer can be provided. While we’d love for the mom cows to be the ultimate helicopter mom, cows, unfortunately, don’t have the ability to give medicine or wipe a stuffy nose for the calf (darn no opposable thumb!) Calves continue to be fed milk from not only her mom but all the other moms on the farm too until they are big enough to eat normal food like when babies FINALLY get to eat those Cheerios.

melissa response

Melissa – Pork Industry Representative

The way I look at “humane slaughter” is very different. First, you need to understand the overall purpose of harvesting animals is to provide quality meat products to consumers. Meat is one of the best forms of essential nutrients for our bodies and is a staple food in diets all over the world. Second, humane handling and harvesting conditions in meat plants have never been better. Years of improvements, innovation and research to better understand the animal has resulted in the most humane processes we have ever seen. Producers now have even calmer, lower stress environments for the animals prior-to and during harvest to ensure that the animal is humanely treated. There are also laws and regulations in place that producers need to follow so consumers can know the product they receive was produced under humane practices. And even a step further than that – many animal care initiatives and advocacy campaigns in all protein industries are also taking place right now to help provide consumer markets with the peace of mind that even in the raising of the animals, they were humanely treated. Third, working in a meat plant for the past three years, I can honestly say I was never once in a situation where I questioned the humane treatment of the animals and I am on the harvest floor often. Knowing the animals are serving a purpose by providing food to the world is a good feeling to me.

laura response 2laura response 2 captionlaura response 1

Laura – 4th Generation Dairy Farmer

First off – the calves are taken away from their mothers after birth for safety and bio-security reasons – not because we’re cruel humans who tear them away. This blog explains in more detail the reasoning behind why we do, what we do when it comes to new born calves!

Second – consumers need to understand that babies calves DO get their mother’s milk for the first three days of their lives (it’s called colostrum). Then, they begin receiving milk replacer and water, and grain and hay is introduced into their diets as the get older and their stomachs develop more. Once a cow has produced her colostrum, I start to sell their moms milk, which is how I, as a dairy producer, make my living and keep my business growing. Keeping a profitable business also allows me to continue to care for my animals and provide them with whatever they need to be happy and comfortable! As dairy farmers, we do everything we can to make sure our calves (and cows) are healthy and lovin’ life! To those people who think we are mean to animals are just plain wrong; why would be mean to an animal that works so hard, and gives us so much? If I don’t give them the attention they need, then my business and passion of dairy farming is done for. Oh – and stop calling it a concentration camp, please.

holocaust cow chronicler response

The Cow Chronicler 

Ok so I had to tackle this one myself. First of all… has this person ever read a history book? Watched a documentary on the Holocaust (wuddup History Channel!)? Paid attention while in high school history and social study classes? Have any common sense of reality? The Holocaust TORTURED people. The Holocaust STARVED people. The Holocaust RIPPED FAMILIES apart and KILLED family members in front of one another. The Holocaust RAPED AND HUMILIATED women and children. You get my point?

Now, I already know the vegan response – “That’s exactly what you’re doing to animals!” Well here’s a slap in the face of reality – uhm, you’re wrong. Let me lay it out for you, ag haters.

  1. We do not torture animals. They are given the ultimate care and comfort that we can provide. Are their people who don’t care for animals like they should? Unfortunately yes, just like there are bad parents, bosses, teachers, etc out there that need to be stopped. However, the way Hitler treated Jewish citizens is NOT a logical comparison – good lord.
  2. We do not starve animals. There are professionals called animal nutritionists that have studied the way animal digestion works, and know exactly what an animals needs to keep them healthy, prevent disease and how to live a long and happy life.
  3. We do not kill family friends in front of one another. Go back and read Melissa’s comments on humane slaughter. If you don’t believe in humane slaughter, then that’s a separate conversation we need to have.
  4. We do not rape and humiliate animals. Read this blog – it talks about the reasons and safety concerns behind artificial insemination on dairy farms (which relates to all other animals as well).

Stay classy, (on) social media

Thanks to Amie Howes for sharing this great piece. We ALL can learn from her experience!


P.S. I really hope you read the title in a Ron Burgundy voice…
When Class worked with my Sass… Well, at least on social media

By Amie Howes,

I love to debate and discuss topics near and dear to my heart. The most productive debates happen when both parties, who are both passionate about what they believe, can remain teachable and respect the other person’s opinion, whether right or wrong. Also, all parties depart the conversation having learned something.

This has not always been how I’ve felt though. I would get so angry and defend instead of relate and align myself with that person or group. This past year at the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit, Charlie Arnot from the Center for Food Integrity really challenged my way of thinking, and my learning’s helped me in a social media conversation a couple months ago. He talked about really taking the time to hear what another person is really saying, and aligning yourself with them in order to have a productive conversation.


Many large food corporations have said they will no longer accept rBST milk, so milk processors sent letters to producers stating as of a certain date they must stop using the product. A larger dairy producer in my area posted a comment, creating that righteous anger well up inside me. I could’ve clicked off the page, however, it goes against everything I believe and teach my kids!

The Conversation:

It started with a producer upset over losing a piece of technology, that they believed made their farm more environmentally friendly, that consumers seem to have lost trust in farmers and their abilities, and fear about what it will take for them get a reality check with 14% of PA is on food stamps.

I responded to all those who commented in the Ag and non-Ag world with this (I said I replaced sass with class, but it’s somewhat gray here 🙂 ), and the comment that was posed to me:

amie howes facebook comments

Now press pause:

What did I learn from this comment? I learned a few things, which made my ending remarks to them softer, showing I respected the opinion and fears they had.

  1. They have a disease that forces them to be careful of everything their body comes into contact with. They have researched endlessly (I’m sure they found scary information along with the good) to do what they thought is safe for their family. Discover the cause of fear.
  2. There is accurate information out there they do not know (yet), which creates room for them to learn. Send credible websites with truthful facts and resources to further educate them, which builds your credibility as well. Educate while you communicate.
  3. Respectfully challenge them to visit a local farmer. Create opportunities for them!
  4. They are teachable! Don’t underestimate your consumer. Solution Continue planting seeds of information!
  5. In ending the conversation, I thanked them for being willing to engage in the conversation and willing to learn about how and why farmers use technologies in their business.

So I challenge you to think about the underlying reason for someone to be opposed to something you passionately deem acceptable. You will know pretty quickly if they are worth your energy and patience or just #Crazy!