“Milked” (the movie) presents a sour view of our biggest export industry – but dairy farmers can learn from it it anyway

A documentary titled Milked,  shown  at the  International Film  Festival in Dunedin, seeks  to  “expose”  the  New Zealand  dairy industry   and  calls  on  New  Zealanders  “to  heal the  land”.

Milked is available globally via the streaming platform Waterbear and on Youtube via Plant Based News. The documentary is made by indigenous activist Chris Huriwai and local director Amy Taylor.

Its crowd-funding campaign surpassed an ambitious $100,000 target in just 12 days, with much international support confirming its global relevance. Huriwai  told  one  news  outlet:

“My wish for this film is that it empowers people to look at the problems we’re facing more holistically. If you’re looking for a solution, it has to encompass everyone within the system and their diverse perspectives. This film is about sparking that conversation”.

But is  NZ  looking  for  a  “solution?”

The   dairy industry is  a world leader not  just  in its  products,  but  in  its systems.

In a  review for Newshub, Daniel  Rutledge says:

‘It’s impressively ballsy that this documentary goes directly after Fonterra, the biggest company in our very small country.  Milked is a no-holds-barred look at the enormous damage the dairy industry wreaks on New Zealand.

“It’s perhaps a sign of our maturity as a nation that this film can so boldly attack the backbone industry it targets, and there are some stunning, shocking facts presented in it.  Former Green Party MP Gareth Hughes, economist Peter Fraser and conservationist Dame Jane Goodall are great interviewees.  Alongside them are some well-summarised, well-presented statistics to get the message across without getting bogged down in too much data.:

Rutledge nevertheless concludes :

But this is far from a great documentary.”

Some  who  see  it   may believe the  solution it  preaches   is  one  of  “regenerative   agriculture”.  The  problem   with that   is  the same as the problem the peasants   of  earlier  centuries  became  familiar  with  in  subsistence  farming.  And  it  would  condemn  many of  those  who  live in  our cities  to  a  similar  standard  of  living.

The more insidious aspect of  the documentary,  as  one  enthusiast put it, is that

“.. it peels back the cynical marketing spin that’s used to hide dairy giant Fonterra’s environmental destruction. Fonterra products are everywhere – in your local dairy, in your supermarket, and promoted around the world, under a ‘Dairy for Life’ headline. Milk is even promoted in schools to instill a lifelong habit of dairy consumption, despite the fact that many people are lactose intolerant and the claimed benefits of dairy consumption are highly debatable”.

But  the   hard  and  positive fact   is  that  milk  has  a   high  nutritional   value,  and  the  dairy  industry’s  products   are  sought by  markets  around  the   world, recognised  for  their  quality and  how  they  stimulate  healthy  living.

Not  for  nothing  have  scientists have  proven the diverse  nutritional  benefits, and  are  continuing to do  so, exploring  the  potential  of new  products.

Industry  loyalists  may  even see  showing  this  film  as a  kind  of  treachery  at a  time  when the pressure  is  coming  on the  government  to  slash  cow  numbers  to  mitigate methane emissions.  But dairy farmers   should be  the  first  to  see  it,  to  understand   the  nature of the political risks   the  industry  is  confronting, and  to lift  even  higher   their goals  because    dairy  indeed  is  “for  life”.

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