Dairy farmers in New Brunswick are upset over advertising on billboards in Moncton and buses in Fredericton that claim “dairy is scary.”
The anti-dairy program is being supported by a vegan group trying to encourage people to strike dairy from their diets.
“We want to bring awareness to the horrors of the dairy industry that many people are not aware,” said Bill Wilson of Vegan Education Group New Brunswick, who also represents the Halifax chapter of the group.
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The billboards, one showing a calf saying “dairy took my mom and my life,” were placed on facing Main Street in Moncton in the mid-June.
One of the billboards points people to watch blogger Erin Janus’s YouTube video posted in 2015 about the dairy industry, viewpoints Wilson said the group supports.
“Forcible impregnating cows so that they can produce milk, it involves removing babies from their mothers within 24 hours after birth mothers can bellow for days.”
But the messages have left a sour taste in the mouth of dairy farmer Mike Mullin, who has a dairy farm in Steeves Mountain, N.B.
“It’s just really hard to see this sort of stuff toward the dairy farmers,” he said.
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Mullin says its false advertising, as it’s in a dairy farmer’s financial best interest to treat his cows with care.
“If we don’t look after our cows they don’t give milk, that’s for sure,” said Mullin.
He says animal cruelty as shown in the video is not at all commonplace in the industry. While he supports the vegan group’s right to free speech, he says their message is one sided and could harm an already struggling industry
“Check your facts. Get them right,” Mullin said.
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Hon. Ross Wetmore, Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, said in a statement that animal welfare is a stop priority for government and New Brunswick’s dairy farmers.
“The Dairy Farmers of NB, along with the Dairy Farmers of Canada, have set in place guidelines that all farms must adhere to a program called ProAction,” said Wetmore.
Every farm in the province and across Canada must adhere to cow comfort and welfare standards.
“Technology and innovation in the dairy industry in Canada and around the world is targeted toward animal welfare and cow comfort,” Wetmore said.
Some of the technologies used are good lighting, ventilation, back scratchers and foot baths.
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But Wilson believes dairy farmers across the country should move away from milk production and instead grow plant-based commodities.
“We don’t have any need for dairy. In fact, the Canada Food Guide eliminated dairy as a food group,” said Wilson.
The group has no plans on slowing down its campaign against dairy. Over the next two weeks, they plan on putting up more billboards in the Halifax area.