Perhaps you know me personally, or perhaps reading this article is the only introduction that we’ve ever had. To bring you up to speed, I am a third generation dairy farmer. I am not a lobbyist nor a politician. I buy my groceries at the store like everyone else because yes, I am a consumer too. My family has a small dairy farm in Southern Ontario. I am proud of our farm and it is a privilege to be able to work with dairy cattle.
I started a public Facebook blog early in 2015 to help educate the public, counteract misinformation, and to share my own personal story about dairy farming. I recently branched out by using Twitter to help reach even more people. Overall my efforts have been extremely rewarding; I’ve had great feedback from farmers and non-farmers all over the world. However, I’ve also had some feedback that I never expected.
I am very proud of the high standards of animal welfare that we practice on our farm and it is often the core of my posts and tweets. You’d wonder how something so positive could be twisted into something so negative. Yet some extreme animal rights activists have taken it upon themselves to reshare my posts, altering the context to serve their own agendas, all the while hiding conveniently behind false identities. Initially I kept screenshots of these hijackings with the intention of using them in my blog. However I was given the advice not to repost their tweets as it only gives these cowards the attention they crave. So, as a compromise and to give context to this blog, rather than publish the screenshots, I will simply provide quotes.
Here is my original posting of a nice letter that was left in our mailbox by an anonymous person. I am so proud of that little note. I keep it displayed to remind me that what I do is noticed and appreciated by others.
When I sent out this tweet I was happy with all the positive vibes that resonated through the Twitter community. However, I must say that I was shocked to see how an extremist twisted my tweet into something to snuff out my enthusiasm and further their own cause: “It’s not about animal welfare, that person who wrote the note should watch when they r mutilated & killed.”
Next, there is this photo that I shared to show how we walk our calves between our two farms to allow them to enjoy an extended length of time on pasture. They truly have an amazing life here and I was trying to share with the general public our dedication to providing our animals as nice a lifestyle as possible.
I couldn’t imagine how an extremist could turn such a wonderful moment into something so evil: “Poor innocent non-human slaves, born into exploitation and when no longer profitable, sent to slaughter.”
There are many other examples that I could share with you, but it only saddens me to go further. I almost feel like I am stooping to their low standards by writing this blog in the first place.
This experience was a real eye opener for me. I feel violated. I have friends and family that are vegan or vegetarian. I respect them and love them even though we have differing opinions. To be honest, you can learn a lot by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and by trying to understand their viewpoints. I am all for open discussion and dialogue, but only if it’s polite and backed with educated facts. Feel free to express your personal views, but please educate yourself first and don’t attack me to try to gain a following.
There is no reasoning with extremists of any type so it’s not worth my time to engage with them. If nothing else, my experience has actually encouraged me to be more aggressive posting positive things about agriculture. I encourage farmers across the world to stand together and do the same. My grandmother always told me to do unto other people as you would have them to do unto you. The world would be a better place if more people followed that advice.
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