Opinion: Dairy farmers deserve our support

The price being paid for the cruelty exhibited in a video released to the media last week keeps climbing.

It has already rightly cost the jobs of those who allegedly beat dairy cattle at Chilliwack Cattle Sales, and criminal charges are under review.

But the tally hasn’t stopped there.

The reputation of an entire industry, and the thousands of people who work in it, is now being so sullied it is breath-taking.

The anger, hatred and derision displayed in online comments and in social media borders on hysterical.

An online petition spurred dairy behemoth Saputo to force the BC Milk Marketing Board to backtrack on its earlier decision to rescind a suspension of milk collection from the farm. Now, every day thousands of litres of milk is being transported to the United States for destruction.

But that penalty isn’t high enough for the online lynch mob. It’s already convicted the eight dairy workers of animal cruelty, as well as the people they worked for.

Now it’s branded every dairy farmer in the country as a vicious sadist whose gleeful pursuit of profit comes at the cost of the animals in his or her care.

To be clear, the behaviour portrayed in that video is abhorrent.

But so are the actions of those trying to destroy the lives and livelihoods of so many.

Agriculture is a critical part of Chilliwack’s economy, generating more than $700 million annually in economic activity.

More than half of that can be attributed to dairy farms.

Not only do dairy farmers help feed a hungry world, they create jobs, fuel associated businesses, and insulate us against the vagaries of a fluctuating global economy.

None of this is an excuse for abuse. But to say that all must pay for the actions of a few is such a contortion of decency and justice it defies belief.

Dairy farmers deserve our support. Not only because they need it right now, but because they’ve earned it.

~ Greg Knill, Chilliwack Progress

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