You’ve no doubt seen the commercials with “happy” California dairy cows who chat and gossip in lush green fields. Obviously, the part in which the cows talk is fiction, but many viewers don’t realize that the rolling green fields are also figments of a marketing team’s vivid imagination. Cows in California are commonly raised ankle-deep in manure on crowded factory farms, and a lawsuit filed by PETA this week is attempting to set the record straight.
PETA is suing the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the California Milk Advisory Board for making false and misleading advertising claims after we filed a public-records request for all documents to substantiate the claims made in the “happy cows” ads, but the CDFA failed to produce a single document supporting the commercials. We’re also asking the court to order the agencies to stop running the ads and to turn over thousands of pages of other documents that we believe will expose the extent of their false claims, but which the CDFA is illegally withholding on spurious “trade secret” grounds.
This isn’t the first time that PETA has tried to force the Milk Advisory Board to stop lying to consumers. We sued the board in 2002, but the court ruled that, as a state agency, the board could not be sued under California’s unfair competition law. We then filed two complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, one in 2002 and the other in 2009, but it refused to take action.
You can help by refusing to buy any dairy products. The only truly happy cows are the ones whose babies aren’t torn away from them so that humans can drink the milk nature intended for calves.
Written by Alisa Mullins