An Open Letter to Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont, his constituent dairy farmers, et. al.
Representative Welch, I read with interest an article (by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. of the Washington Post printed in the Chicago Tribune) about a letter signed by 20 U.S. legislators demanding the FDA require makers of soy milk, almond milk, and so forth to drop the word "milk" from their labels.
If it doesn't come from an animal, the word "milk" doesn't belong, the article said, summarizing your point. Of course, your own quote a couple of paragraphs later gets to the heart of the matter (or at least, why your heart's in it): these drinks are being placed in the dairy aisle (the outrage!) "right next to milk" you say, adding that dairy is "really crucial" in Vermont and much of "rural America," and dairy farmers are "hanging on by their fingernails."
To which I can only say: really? The end of the dairy industry as we know it? This could not happen soon enough!
Sometimes, we simply have to accept that a job that has been done for hundreds of years won't be with us forever. We have to accept that just because a profession has been in our family for generations doesn't mean we are entitled to it. We also have to accept that this might be for the better.
Often, it's technology that eliminates a job: consider the lamplighter whose gig was made unnecessary by our wired streetlights, or the telegraph and switchboard operators that have given way to ever speedier and more digital technologies, or even the bowling alley pinsetters whose work is now done by simple machine movement.
Sometimes, though, it's a moral goodness that eliminates a job. Where, now, are the slave traders that kidnapped thousands of humans, cruelly confined them, separated them from family members, and forced them into lives of suffering and sorrow that bore no hint of justice?
Please, Representative Welch, and dairy farmers of Vermont, open your hearts and minds to think about WHY people are buying more and more alternative "milks" and less and less of your cruel, unnecessary product.
We don't want to support an industry that relies on confining sentient beings.
We don't want to have adult females impregnated, only to then have their calves taken away (sometimes just to be slaughtered - a true wasted life).
Do you vouch for the health and safety of the cows on your constituents' dairy farms? Can you possibly assure us that the cows of your industry are not living lives of misery? You speak of farmers metaphorically "hanging by their fingernails" but what about newborn calves stolen from their mothers who are actually trying to cling to life? Or adult cows living in years of imprisonment, unable to have the simple freedom to walk or turn or roam?
Perhaps people would buy more of your milk, so "crucial" in Vermont, if you could assure us it isn't manufactured in cruelty.
On the other hand, maybe we would continue to reduce the amount of dairy milk we consume, because as the populace at large learns more and more about how to healthily sustain and nourish ourselves, we logically turn away from your "crucial" product.
We might continue to realize on a grand scale that we simply don't need milk. Despite the years of successful lobbying, despite your oh-so-powerful Vermont/rural America industry that has brainwashed minds young and old with slogans like "Got milk?" and "It does a body good!" we know that it doesn't do all that much "good" for our bodies at all.
Humans do NOT need cows' milk. Drop the tired old argument about calcium (available in plenty other foods). Despite your having convinced so many of them that they do, humans who have been weaned from their mothers after breastfeeding should take a hint from the rest of their fellow mammals and move on to other foods.
And by the way? Milk and dairy really aren't that healthy. You might be amazed at how much better you feel when you eliminate dairy from your diet, how easily you shed those few pounds of bloated abdomen that just accumulate and hang out when you're a milk drinker,
As a legislator, a position that purports to be about service and leadership, you ought to be spending your time and Congressional efforts creating sustainable, forward-thinking jobs and opportunities, rather than clinging to antiquated notions and perpetuating industries that have become completely out of control in the modern age as they scramble to produce enough for too many millions of greedy, entitled humans. You should be encouraging Vermont and others to build a healthy, happy future.
Is it acceptable for a rural farmer to have a couple of cows, milk them to provide for the family, and perhaps sell to a few local village households, while NOT removing and killing the calves, and while NOT keeping the mother penned but instead allowing her to be a free, roaming animal? Sure.
Is the massive dairy industry lobby that controls our nation now acceptable? Good god, no.
Please reconsider your ideas and strategy, and please try to use your position and your voice to actually do some (human and cow) bodies good.