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”.