Today, a single email can launch a worldwide movement. Three years ago today, a single email started what would become the greatest social change movement in the dairy industry. (Read more: Twice the Bull – Half the S**T) However, it’s all going to fail without your support. Let us explain.
For years, the media has been censored. What you read and what you heard and the opinions expressed were those that the powers that be wanted you to hear. Magazines only published viewpoints that they knew would be popular with advertisers because that is how they made their money. That model had to be broken, and it took more than just technology to change the world as we know it.
In 2012, the Turkish military jets had bombed and killed 34 Kurdish smugglers near the border region and Turkish media completely censored that news. Editors sat in their newsrooms and waited for the government to tell them what to do. One frustrated journalist could not take this anymore. He purchased his own plane ticket and went to the village where it had occurred. He was confronted by this scene: a line of coffins coming down a hill and relatives wailing. He felt overwhelmed.. He didn’t know what to do, so he took out his phone, like any one of us might, and snapped that picture and tweeted it out. Voila! That picture went viral and broke the censorship and forced mass media to cover the story.
These same feelings are the feelings we here at the Bullvine felt when watching what was happening to the dairy industry. We could see the media and the industry censoring what information was being shared with producers from around the world. Scared to share an opinion that was contrary to that of the companies that had the power, the industry was heading down a slippery slope. We felt the need to say something. We didn’t like feeling overwhelmed. So we started the Bullvine.
However, sometimes starting the conversation or sharing a different opinion is not enough. Take what occurred in Turkey in 2012. A year later, Turkey’s Gezi protests began. It started as a protest about a park being razed but became an anti-authoritarian protest. It wasn’t surprising that the media also censored it, but it got a little ridiculous at times. hings were very intense. At the same time that CNN International was broadcasting live from Istanbul, CNN Turkey was airing a documentary on penguins. Now, I love penguin documentaries but that wasn’t the news of the day. An angry viewer put his two screens together and snapped that picture, and that one too went viral, and since then, people call Turkish media the penguin media.
We find this same level of censorship, either intentional or not, still exists in the dairy industry. Most publications are so afraid to offend the companies that have the power or the money that they are allowing them to choke out those same breeder-producers they claim to serve. Instead of standing up for those that they claim are members of the community, they sit back and watch as the industry slowly dies. They prefer to post pretty pictures of baby calves or young kids, choosing to hide their heads in the sand like CNN Turkey did, instead of analyzing the actual news of the day.
Nowadays, technology like Facebook, Twitter, and etcetera allow people from around the world to connect on any topic they choose. We see it all the time in chat forums such as The MilkHouse, where breeders express their concerns about actual issues that all breeders face. The challenge is, for the most part, it’s just talk. It’s a few breeders who are expressing their concerns while others lurk in the background afraid of repercussions.
A great example of this is when one breeder expressed their concerns over a sire of theirs failing health tests, after initially passing them upon entering an AI unit. The level of discussion went insane. Breeders and producers from around the world were expressing their support and outrage about how this AI unit had conducted themselves. The AI unit representative had even called the breeder threatening them for their actions. The problem is nothing changed.
Sure social media helped flame this fire to proportions never before seen in the dairy industry. However, nothing changed. Everyone eventually moved on. No one has purchased less semen from this AI company as a result of their actions and breeders still lease their sires to this AI company. So nothing has really changed other than the megaphone has gotten louder.
While we here at the Bullvine certainly see the need to raise and give a megaphone to the issues that face breeders here today, it is going to take more than just a louder voice to bring about real change. It’s going to take all members of the community to unite and take action.
The dairy breeding industry is on the edge of extinction as we know it. AI companies and other genetic organizations are using the superior technological and capital power they possess to choke out the dairy breeding industry as we know it. Unfortunately, dairy breeders are sitting back and watching this happen. They are letting these companies choke out their future. Sure a few voices on social media are shouting, “Hell no!” But no one is taking action.
The companies that are making these decisions that best serve their own interests see that, despite all the discontent that is being expressed through social media, no one is changing their buying habits. It was much the same when we first took on the touchy subject of AI units owning females. Sure everyone was upset about the issue but no one took action. Now these organizations own the majority of the top index animals in the world and have more than enough females to produce their own next generation of sires, without having to purchase bulls from breeders at all. Breeders have become like that little dog with a big bark that has no bite. There is no incentive, need or concern, on the part of the AI companies, to change.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
In the past, when dairy producers had a problem, the only way they could be heard was to join committees and get on boards in order to have their voice heard. In contrast, in today’s day and age, you can simply take to social media and express your opinion. The problem is that it’s too easy. It’s too easy to get it off your chest and then move on. This method leads to no sustainable change being made. So, the next time you are so pissed off about something in the dairy industry or the next time you are so concerned about the future of the breeding industry, don’t just take the easy route and put up an angry post on Facebook. Ask yourself what sustainable action you are taking to bring about change? For us here at the Bullvine, that is the motivation that first got us started three years ago today. That is the motivation that we use daily to do what we do. However, without you taking action it all dies on the vine – The Bullvine.