Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Few Thoughts on the Conklin Dairy Farms abuse videos and the dairy industry...

Well, you've probably heard the latest, but I'll comment on it here, anyway.

Gary Conklin, owner of Conklin Dairy Farms in Marysville, Ohio - the place where those notorious undercover videos were shot of cows being beaten, jammed with pitchforks, having their tails snapped and the list goes on and on - will not face criminal charges.

There is some confusion as to whether Conklin wast actually captured on film abusing cows. Whether or not he was directly involved, this terrible abuse occurred in the facility he owned, and God only knows how long it had been going on.

This case is not over. Not by a long shot. Animal rights groups won't let this rest. Ever since these videos went public in the spring, protesters have not let up on Conklin Dairy Farms. The struggle has included online petitions, Websites calling for justice, demonstrations at the farm, and activists networking across North America to advocate for the abused animals.

Ten years ago, a case like this would not have generated so much attention. Today, those who advocate for animals are more outspoken than ever. The dairy and meat industries are on the defensive all the time. If you get a chance, look at their online magazines and trade publications. Regularly, they publish articles about the negative impact of animal rights activism on their businesses. Of course, these things are all a matter of perspective. What they see as negative, animal rights advocates see as progress.

When the Conklin Dairy Farms video scandal first broke, I expressed concern that if people focus too much on the specific instances of abuse and not the fact that the dairy industry is violent and exploitive, then there won't be any sweeping, long-term changes. Even if cows are not hit or punched in the face, like the poor animals at Conklin Dairy Farms, they're still confined to cold, dark places, out of the sunlight, forced into a perpetual state of pregnancy and their babies are hauled off and turned to veal.

How much more violent must a system be before people recognize the tragic toll it is taking on sentient beings who have feelings?

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