The dairy community came together in Madison, Wisconsin, for World Dairy Expo earlier this month to reconnect after 18 months of virtual engagement. I am here for my first World Dairy Expo, and it has been great meeting with people I had only emailed with until now. At the same time, more than 100 animal rights extremists attended the Direct Action Everywhere Animal Liberation Conference in California.

These activists entered a poultry processing facility where 11 of them were arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest while others took chickens from a transport truck headed into the facility. Although this incident happened to the poultry community, it could have easily happened to the dairy community, and it is something for those in the dairy industry to consider.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance safeguards the future of animal agriculture and its value to society by bridging the communication gap between farms and food communities. One way we achieve our mission is by monitoring animal rights extremist groups so we can provide our members with farm and facility security resources and advice on how to mitigate the impact of the next activist campaign. As part of this work, Alliance representatives attend major animal rights conferences to gain insight on tactics and strategies of the animal rights movement.

This year, the Alliance released reports from PETA’s Not Your Usual Animal Rights Conference, the Rancher Advocacy Program Summit and the Farmed Animal Conference E-Summit (hosted in place of the Animal Rights National Conference, which has been cancelled for the past two years due to public health concerns). We will also have a recap from the Animal Liberation Conference soon.

Key tactics discussed at these events included: drafting bills to “educate legislators,” comparing animal rights to social justice movements to reach a broader audience, reaching out to farmers to convince them to become “veganic” and launching public campaigns against brands with undercover videos. One speaker mentioned how the animal rights movement would be decades behind where they are now without showing “graphic” content.


Another key tactic is becoming a shareholder of companies, including restaurants and retail brands. One speaker said they “buy stock so we can submit shareholder resolutions and attend annual meetings. This helps us get a foot in the door because companies hate it when we speak at their yearly pep rallies. Even the mere threat of attending such meetings has opened doors.”

Here’s what speakers specifically said about dairy at this year’s conferences:

  • “Milk is not healthy for you. It’s toxic.”
  • “I saw slavery. I saw rape. I saw kidnapping.”
  • “It was the state of California that told us we couldn’t use the term ‘butter’ [to market dairy alternatives] and we couldn’t show pictures of animals like cows and goats on our website because those images belong to the livestock industry, which was pretty crazy.”
  • “Pharmaceuticals might as well be the meat and dairy industry because we wouldn’t need all those pills if we went plant-based. A good percentage of the medication we use is based on poor diet and we could eliminate those.”
  • “I studied the dairy industry, and I concluded that it is the filthiest, nastiest, most egregious form of cruelty in animal agriculture.”
  • “Here is how sick our society has become. They are now suggesting and have a pilot program to put masks on cows so that they are not only tortured, forcibly impregnated, have babies stolen from them, and they’re eventually killed, but now through their horrific lives, they’re going to have to walk around with masks to take their burps that are methane-filled. This is moral degeneracy.”
  • “If cheese were any worse [for health], it would be Vaseline.”
  • “Cancer rates seem to be lower in people who consume more soy products.”

Being at World Dairy Expo helps put things back into perspective and reminds us of dairy’s value to society.

A tourist who had no connection to dairy farming and was originally in Madison to visit the state capital saw the expo was happening and decided to check it out. She stopped by the Alliance booth. When I asked her what she thought of the expo, she said, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe how well dairy cows are cared for!”

Our message is getting out there, but the dairy community is up against a very loud and strategic counter voice. Visit the Alliance website to learn more about animal rights extremists and how you can elevate your voice to become an outspoken advocate for animal agriculture.  end mark

Casey Kilner is the director of membership and marketing for Animal Agriculture Alliance. Email Casey Kinler.