Opinion: Raise a glass to defending agriculture

Zach RelphCountryman
American actor Joaquin Phoenix used his Oscar acceptance speech to slam the milk industry.
Camera IconAmerican actor Joaquin Phoenix used his Oscar acceptance speech to slam the milk industry. Credit: Countryman/Danella Bevis

Twitter: the social networking service providing a platform for people across the globe to interact.

In the agriculture community, the American-founded microblogging site has emerged as a valuable tool for farmers to communicate with fellow producers, ask questions and have a joke.

Wheatbelt farmer Bryn Davies — a friend of the Countryman — is among farmers using the platform to ensure other WA livestock producers and grain growers are having a laugh.

The passionate Kulin sheep producer also uses Twitter as a tool to defend agriculture.

Yet, it seems Twitter’s vegan community do not share Bryn’s love of farming.

A screen grab from Bryn Davies' Twitter video.
Camera IconA screen grab from Bryn Davies' Twitter video. Credit: Twitter/@tofar1/@tofar1

Bryn last week posted a video of himself chugging milk on Twitter in support of the dairy farmers.

It came in response to American actor Joaquin Phoenix using his Oscar acceptance speech, for his captivating role in Joker,to slam the milk industry.

“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,” Phoenix said.

“Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”

After the tirade, Bryn was quick to defend his dairy colleagues and share the light-hearted footage of himself enjoying a refreshing glass of milk.

The video, which has more than 60,000 views, was widely condemned by animal activists and vegan-identifying Twitter users.

They labelled the well-known farmer a “baby”, “flog” and “disgusting”, among other things.

But Bryn has not been deterred, with the backlash instead encouraging the farmer to further throw his support behind agriculture.

Bryn’s actions also prompted more WA farmers to join him in support of the dairy sector and post videos of them enjoying a glass — or a two-litre bottle, in one case — of milk.

Unfortunately, disagreeing with users on Twitter is not exclusive to the dairy industry.

Positive news stories about WA’s live sheep trade have come into the animal activism firing line on social media, too.

A screen grab from Bryn Davies' Twitter video.
Camera IconA screen grab from Bryn Davies' Twitter video. Credit: Twitter/@tofar1

The Perth-branch of animal activist group Direct Action Everywhere were also vocal online this week in opposition to livestock production.

It comes as DxE’s ringleader James Warden fronted Perth Magistrate’s Court on Monday and Tuesday for allegedly stealing a Friesian calf from the Partridge family’s Brunswick farm.

While everyone is entitled to their view, and online platforms provide an avenue to share opinions, social media can be an echo chamber for farmers and animal activists alike.

When the two worlds collide, the debate — while entertaining — develops into a slanging match more often than not.

I doubt last week’s Twitter discussion between farmers and vegans would have done much to bridge the rural-urban divide.

But it did show the importance of standing up for agriculture and not accepting anti-farming statements, even if they are from a celebrity.

So, let’s raise a glass — of milk — to Bryn and other farmers defending farming.

Cheers.

Zach Relph is a journalist at Countryman.

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