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Opinions & Sacred Cows: Score one for our team!


By Ron Goble


It’s not very often that the dairy industry gets the satisfaction of seeing the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) put in their place. It happened last month, when Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled California Milk Advisory Board’s (CMAB) advertisements “convey a message that dairy farmers work full time to secure the health and comfort of their cows by providing a nutritious diet, good medical care and healthy living arrangements consistent with the highest animal welfare standards – matters shown to be supported by the direct aggregated experience and knowledge of California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) personnel and CMAB members.” 

 The Sacramento Superior Court of the State of California rejected claims by PETA to discredit communications from the CMAB about how California dairy farmers care for their dairy herds. The Court rightfully determined that there is “strong evidentiary support for the claims made by the challenged marketing statements.”

“This decision is very rewarding for our California dairy farmers and families who work hard to care for their cows while producing a healthy, delicious product that consumers love,” said Richard Michel. “As a California dairy farmer and chairman of the CMAB, I am proud of their dedication and the programs that allow us to share that passion with consumers as we promote California dairy here, across the U.S. and abroad.” 

Yes, it was very good news that the Court sees the truth concerning dairy producers, while recognizing the blatant attempt by PETA to smear an industry that can stand proudly behind its record.

We appreciate the valuable role the CMAB plays – to market and to create a demand for California dairy products, and we also believe in the value of CMAB sharing the dairy industry story through the words of the dairy farmers themselves.


The Perfect Storm 

The past few months conditions have created what might be called  “the perfect storm” for the dairy industry, especially in the West. Not only do milk producers have to compete with the negative economic pressures caused by a subsidized ethanol industry for corn, but farmers in the largest corn-producing states, also have been hit with an extended drought that has devastated a huge percent of this year’s crop. The result, as all dairy producers know, is more out-of-sight corn prices and too-low milk prices that don’t enable most dairy operators to cover their production costs.

In California, dozens of dairy producers are filing for bankruptcy or merely liquidating their assets and getting out of the business before all their equity is eaten up by skyrocketing feed costs. It’s a sad turn of events for dairy families, many of whom have been dairying and farming on the same ground for generations.

Some industry insiders say hope is around the corner. Apparently, industry leaders are still hard at work to solve the inequities in the feed-to-milk price ratio. For some, it will be too late to save their dairy. Others will find the “fix” just in time for them to survive in an industry that is becoming more and more volatile. The dairy producer always has had a “never-give-up, things will get better” attitude. But times are changing and it requires industry to work harder to stay ahead of the curve.


Have an opinion? E-mail Ron Goble: rgoble@dairybusiness.com