During a recent conversation, a friend brought up some recent online attacks myself and several others involved with the dairy industry received online from animal-rights extremists. While I try to be as careful as possible to keep these conversations away from the little ears running around the farm, my daughter overheard enough to know some people were saying some really mean things to farmers.
She was very concerned — I could see it all over her face. A little later while we were doing chores, she asked, “Mom, why do people hate us? Why do they hate dairy farmers?” My heart sank. She took a conversation about how people were treating her mother online and applied what those people feel toward me to her. Why? Because she is also a dairy farmer, she loves the farm and she loves the cows. Her dream is to be a large animal veterinarian and work with farms like ours.
The past few years I have learned so much about the folks outside my little world simply by sharing what we do daily on social media. I didn’t start sharing to push my views or what we do on others. I started sharing because I was new to agriculture and every day I was learning something new. I fell in love with dairy farming, the cows, and this way of life. I wanted others to do the same.
Sure I wanted to combat the misinformation I was seeing online, but I also want what happens on our farm to come from myself or my husband, not from anyone else. It’s our story, our life, and it’s ours to tell. There are far too many others — be it activists groups or those we pay to promote what we do — speaking for us.
Who knew that being open, honest, and transparent about what we do would make animal-rights extremists so angry.
So why are these folks so angry that they will continue to tag me in their anti-dairy posts on a weekly basis, take screenshots of my pregnancy photos and tell their followers to comment (aka harass) me on my Facebook and Instagram accounts? It’s simple really. We have different beliefs. I believe that using animals for food is okay as long as we treat them with the utmost respect and give them a good life while on our farm. They do not believe that animals should be used for food and denounce everything we do on our farm. It doesn’t matter what I post or share or the fact that I have addressed every “question” or accusation along the way. They don’t care. They believe what they believe, they are not going to change their minds, but they are going to do everything they can to force their point of view on others.
I recently shared about how our farm is a bull bred herd. I introduced those who follow our farm to Bo & Luke (our jersey herd bulls). I received comments from activists about how we “rape” our cows. After removing hundreds of comments and banning hundreds of activists, I just turned off the comments. It will always amaze me how much time folks have to be online and do nothing productive.
I want to introduce to you Bo & Luke. These two love the ladies and well the ladies love them. Now these two farm bulls have no shame in their game. They do not like to be tied down and despite our best efforts of teaching abstinence… They get around. Once they get hot on the scent of a cows ovulation, there is no stopping them. Their top lip curls up and they sniff the air until they find “the one”. Many people think that cows shouldn’t have a baby every year and that farmers like myself are “forcibly impregnating” them but the truth is they want to get bred. In fact, they just stand there while these farm bulls do their thing. Now the thing is… This is going to happen in our barn, in our field or pretty much anywhere. It doesn’t matter if we own these animals or if they are living “wild & free”. It’s nature. They are animals. They are not people. But if you feel like you know what’s best and that this shouldn’t happen… You are more than welcome to come have “the talk” with these two and see how they respond. They might even want to be rescued from this horrible life of being waited on hand and foot and endless physical relations with the ladies. Heck they might even want to come home with you, sleep in your bed and cuddle up (like the puppy or kitty you took from it’s mother you horrible human). After all they are just sweet and innocent creatures.
On another post, I shared a pregnancy update with a photo of our growing farm boy. I then received countless comments on how I shouldn’t be allowed to be a mother, I should have my children taken away, and some even went so far to say they wish my kids were kidnapped or put in cages. Why? Because we separate our calves and mothers at birth and care for them individually. No matter what you do or say, you will not change their minds. It doesn’t matter that majority of these folks have never been on a farm. Their minds are made up of their own truth, and as farmers/ranchers we just have to accept that.
So what are those of us in animal agriculture supposed to do? It’s simple really, we keep telling our story. We ignore them, we block them, we delete their comments, and we do not for one second allow them to use our platform to spread their crazy. We keep sharing every day what we do. We take the attacks and horrible things that these folks do/say and we use it to fuel our fire and stand up for our way of life.
“But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” — Rocky
Krista Stauffer is a wife, mother of three, and first-generation millennial dairy farmer. Krista works side by side with her husband and kids on their 140-cow dairy.