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Wed Dec 10, 2014, 10:21 PM

The One Thing Worse Than Big Dairy’s Abuse of Cows? Its Abuse of Workers


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Dairies operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

FEATURES » DECEMBER 1, 2014

While the dairy industry’s cruel treatment of cows has been well documented, workers face vile and often dangerous conditions.
BY JOSEPH SORRENTINO

New Mexico’s dairies, like almost all dairies in the United States, never stop running. Cows are milked two or three times a day, every day. “Cows don’t know holidays,” says Alfredo Gomez, a 56-year-old dairy worker in southeastern New Mexico. “Here, there’s no Christmas.” For the vast majority of dairy workers in New Mexico, as in most states, there’s also no holiday pay, no overtime, no sick pay and no workers’ comp. They work in dirty, difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions for an industry they’re convinced values milk over milkers.

Dairy is big in New Mexico. Big in number of cows, with approximately 320,000 statewide; big in average herd size, with about 2,200 cows per dairy (the largest in the nation); and big in economic impact. Dairy is the number one agricultural commodity in the state. The value of New Mexico’s milk production topped $1.5 billion last year. When you factor in milk processing, goods and services purchased by the industry, and the wages workers spend locally, dairy’s total economic impact on the state is over $4 billion annually. The industry also provides more than 3,000 dairy jobs and 14,000 other jobs statewide.

Big Dairy goes to great lengths to project a small image. It portrays itself as comprised of family farms, and as an industry deeply concerned about its cows and its workers. Photographs on dairy co-op and lobbying websites show clean black-and-white Holsteins sprawled in lush green fields, with calves being bottle-fed by smiling young Anglos.

At best, that’s a gross misrepresentation. Three-quarters of workers are Mexican, and most of the milk produced in New Mexico (and nationwide) comes from concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Cows don’t graze in green pastures. Instead, they are kept in corrals, standing on dirt or, more frequently, in the muck that is generated by their urine and feces. A dairy cow expels as much as 150 pounds of manure a day.

FULL story at link.

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Reply The One Thing Worse Than Big Dairy’s Abuse of Cows? Its Abuse of Workers (Original post)
Omaha Steve Dec 2014 OP
JEFF9K Dec 2014 #1
TBF Dec 2014 #2

Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Wed Dec 10, 2014, 10:50 PM

1. Speaking as a "plantarian," ...

The worst thing about big dairy is that it leads to big heart disease, big obesity, and big dementia.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Thu Dec 11, 2014, 12:44 PM

2. To the owners animals and workers

really are no different. We are only useful to them as labor ... other than that we might as well be cows.

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