The Radke Report: Anti-dairy documentary calls for a rebuttal

Amanda Radke
The Radke Report
Radke

There’s a new documentary circulating on the internet. It’s called, “Cow.”

Created by Andrea Arnold in the United Kingdom in 2021, the film has now hit the United States, and it offers a “portrait of the life of a dairy cow as it chronicles the daily life from grazing in green fields, to giving birth, to making milk, and everything in between.”

Upon viewing the film, hundreds of reviewers online have declared that life as a dairy cow must be “brutal,” “violent” and “abusive.” A “slavery system” that needs to be ended.

Now, I don’t share this film so you’ll go out and watch it, thus validating this sort of hit piece by giving it more time and attention. However, I want to let you know about this so you are aware of yet another example of the unrelenting and full-force attacks that are coming at beef and dairy cattle in today’s society.

From animal rights activist groups to environmental extremists to celebrities and media pundits to politicians looking to score easy points, the cow is an easy punching bag, and the real losers are the producers who continue to take the beatings on the mat without ever throwing a punch back.

Now you might be wondering what is the best way to fight back and to counter the narrative when the attacks are so dark, so terrible and so emotionally triggering for viewers?

The answer is simple, my friends.

We continue to do what we have always done in rural America — we lead with positivity.

That means we put on our advocacy hats and we get to work. We don’t sit at home and grumble with our neighbors about documentaries like “Cow,” “Food Inc.” and others.

We put on our boots, slap on our hats and head to town to share our stories.

That could be a cooking demonstration using beef at the local grocery store. Or perhaps you set up a booth at the next baseball tournament this summer and serve dairy ice cream cones and beef jerky.

Maybe you do a fundraiser to donate meat and dairy to the local food pantry. Or work to get locally raised beef in the public schools.

You might possibly connect with the local media to spread the good news about animal agriculture. Could you maybe invite the local schools out for a farm tour? Or create a video from the farm to share on YouTube?

A recipe shared. A story told. A connection made. A friendship blossoming. This is the way we make an impact, but the key is we must seek to do it day in and day out. We can’t wait until our back is in the corner or the attacks hit us directly.

Advocacy has got to be part of our jobs as livestock producers. Whether we like it or not, there is a very clear agenda to strip producers from the land and to take meat, dairy and eggs off the dinner table.

Are we going to stand by and let it happen? Or are we going to engage in the fight and have meaningful conversations with the people we aim to serve?

I’ll share one way I’m practicing what I preach. I recently teamed up with Zoetis and Michelle Weber Studio to create a new children’s book titled “C is for Care.” It’s a sweet ABC story describing how beef and dairy farmers tend to their cattle.

It’s a simple and easy read with gorgeous illustrations, and it is my hope that young readers (with the help of teachers and parents) will fall in love with farmers and ranchers and the animals they bond with each day.

The book is now available at www.amandaradke.com, along with my other stories that aim to teach kids about where their food comes from. To me, it’s the perfect antidote to documentaries like “Cow,” which seeks to attack livestock owners and portray the life of a cow as a terrible, awful thing.

And now my wheels are spinning on how we can continue to counter attacks of this ilk. Who wants to make a documentary with me to showcase how cattle are truly cared for? I’m totally serious. This needs to happen. I’m game, if you are. Let’s start filming. Ready, set, action!

Amanda Radke is a fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in agricultural communications, education and leadership, Radke is a blogger for BEEF Daily.