A Wisconsin dairy farmer took umbrage at actor Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar acceptance speech slamming the dairy industry by pointing out that dairy farmers “feed the world.”
Phoenix, whose performance in Joker earned him an Oscar for best actor, used part of his speech to criticize the dairy industry.
“We go into the natural world, and we plunder it for its resources,” Phoenix said. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and, when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable.”
“Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal,” the 45-year-old actor added.
Wisconsin dairy farmer Tom Oberhaus objected to the actor’s comments and said Phoenix did not know enough about the subject to speak with such conviction.
“We just wave it off and go, ‘Hey, ding-dong, you don’t have any idea what’s going on out here at the farm,'” Oberhaus, who holds a dairy science degree from the Ohio State University and was director of the Waukesha County farm bureau, told WISN-TV.
“I mean, I’d love it if he’d come out here for a couple hours — that would be awesome. That’s an invite, Mr. Phoenix. Come on out. See what life is like on the farm.”
Oberhaus added that he believes his job is an important one.
“You know, we feel we have real important jobs in the world. We help feed the world. It’s kind of important that people have food to eat, and what do you do, Mr. Phoenix? Oh, yeah, you entertain people. OK,” the Wisconsinite added with a shrug.
Oberhaus added that he did not watch the awards show but heard about Phoenix’s comments from other farmers in the following days.
Phoenix’s anti-dairy speech also caught the attention of at least one member of Congress.
Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Fred Keller, who represents a largely agricultural region, also defended the dairy industry.
“Phoenix’s rambling remarks about America’s dairy industry prove how out-of-touch he is with the hardworking Americans who grow our food and create healthy communities,” he said. “Phoenix’s Hollywood elite worldview has clearly blinded him to the sacrifice and struggles of America’s dairy farmers.”
A spokesperson for the National Milk Producers Federation also responded to the controversy by assuring the public that dairy farmers across America are committed to the ethical treatment of the animals they own.
“If [Phoenix] studied the commitment of dairy farmers to animal welfare and had a fuller understanding of the contribution of dairy products to a nutritious diet, especially for children, he might have a different perception of the value that dairy contributes to global health and the importance of the dairy sector to global livelihood,” spokesman Alan Bjerga told Fox Business on Monday.