As a dairy farmer, the phrase “we are a factory farm” is probably a phrase that no one has a desire to utter. However, during the October 12, 2022, Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream, Colorado dairy farmer Mary Kraft suggested maybe there are some positive correlations that need to be made with that label.

“What we think of as a factory farm is what happened in the 1950s and 1960s,” she said. “A factory farm would have a pipe leading to the lagoon and pouring filth out. There’s smokestacks and things like that . . . that's a factory.”

Instead, she directed listeners to a different conversation about what factories can mean.

“I'm hopeful that we can have a different conversation about what a factory is,” Kraft shared. “When you look at what happens in most manufacturing operations, there is a huge eye toward protocol and making sure that the quality standards are met every single time. There are inspections and there are safety standards for the employees.

“When I think about buying a vehicle, I want one that came from a factory where they have standards about how close my brake pads need to be because I want to know that they actually work and that the steering doesn't have a bunch of play in it — those sorts of things are very important to me,” she continued.

In fact, Kraft suggested it’s our responsibility as an industry to reclaim these terms that have been used as weapons by dairy’s opponents over the years.

“As producers, we need to sort of take some of those words back and say, ‘Look, we are a manufacturer. We are putting things together in a grouped or bundled fashion, and we're trying to handle them in the most efficient way,’” she concluded.

Additionally, these operations have stringent health and safety standards, follow careful environmental codes, and work closely with their local communities to employ many people. While “factory” might not have the kindest connotation, it does play an important role in producing high-quality and safe products. Let’s tell that story.

To watch the recording of the October 12 DairyLivestream, go to the link above. The program recording is now also available as an audio-only podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and downloadable from the Hoard’s Dairyman website.

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November 17, 2022
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