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State justices refuse PETA a hearing on the life of cows
by Bob Egelko
Thursday Apr 21st, 2005 8:41 PM
The court denied review without comment.
Thursday, April 21, 2005

Whether the cows in a state milk board's ads are really happy is apparently none of the California courts' business.

The state Supreme Court denied review of an appeal Wednesday by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which sued the California Milk Producers Advisory Board in December 2002. The board's ads, funded by dairy farms, showed cows grazing in green pastures with the slogan, "Great cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California.''

Actually, PETA declared, California dairy cows commonly spend their lives in dirt and mud, are repeatedly impregnated and milked throughout their pregnancies, often suffer painful maladies and are slaughtered when they can no longer meet the industry's production demands.

A court may not be able to tell whether cows are truly happy, the animal- rights group said, but it should decide whether consumers are being misled.

But San Francisco Superior Court Judge David Garcia ruled that the milk board could not be sued for false advertising or unfair business practices, the two laws invoked by PETA. He said they can be used only against individuals, companies and private associations.

A Court of Appeal panel in San Francisco agreed with Garcia in January, saying past rulings had established that government agencies are immune from lawsuits over their ads.

Complaints about a state-run agricultural marketing program must instead be filed administratively with the state director of food and agriculture, the court said.

PETA's appeal to the state's high court argued that the appellate court had improperly narrowed the law. By authorizing suits over unfair and deceptive practices, the Legislature intended "to give consumers the direct power to protect themselves from harm, even when that harm comes from the government,'' attorney Bruce Wagman said.

The court denied review without comment.

The case is PETA vs. California Milk Producers Advisory Board, S131634.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by a philosopher
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 10:08 AM
This would be a difficult question for courts to decide. Many questions would have to be asked...
1) What is happiness?
2) Is it a perpetual frame of mind, or a state that comes and goes?
3) Is it measurable?
4) Is there such a thing as absolute truth?

I think that reason that the courts rejected it is even if a jury were to hear these arguments, by the time they recessed for lunch and had a fat, greasy cheeseburger they would find these questions unworthy of taxpayer time and money.
Animal abuse is bad- but maybe even a cow that is constantly being milked is happier than a cow would be in the dorm rooms and think tanks of our readers.
Besides, in our capitalistic society, if you really care for all these cows, get a job, earn some money, buy them, and have them move in with you like they do in India.
Of course while this would increase the cows happiness, it would probably decrease yours.
by and by
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 10:30 AM
You seem to have missed the point here. It's not as philosophical as you facetiously make it out to be.

"A court may not be able to tell whether cows are truly happy, the animal-rights group said, but it should decide whether consumers are being misled."

Consumers are being misled by these advertisements, but apparently the government refuses to hold itself to the same standards as other advertisers even though these ads are funded by private dairy farms.
by philo again
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 11:12 AM
My point exactly! We agree!
In order to prove that consumers are being misled, you must first prove the cows are unhappy.

Let me illustrate. Let's say the add read "California cows are smarter than other cows."
First, you wuld need to measure the intelligence of other cows, and then compare it to California cows. If you can't do that, there is no case for misrepresentation.

In the same way, for consumers to be misled, you would first need to prove...
1) That cows can experience happiness
2) That their happiness can be measured
3) That living in California either increases or decreases their happiness.

Then you would need to chart the fluctuation. For example, I would imagine that a California cow is happier in December that one in Siberia covered with ice no matter what the other conditions are.

I would say that the burden of proof is on PETA to prove these things, and then we can talk about whether or not consumers are being misled.
by and by
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 11:58 AM
Dairy cows by and large do not roam in giant wide-open fields. Not here in California, the largest dairy state in the nation (perhaps anywhere). That would be inefficient. What you see here is the real picture of dairy cows in California today.

They lived in cramped quarters, constantly re-impregnated, fed drugs to increase production, and hooked up to milking machines until they are considered economically useless.

The wide-open fields consistently used in the ads suggest a sense of freedom that any consumer "gets" without even having to think about it, reinforcing the supposed "happiness" the ads outright claim. It would be a stretch to imply that their real-life conditions approach anything close to happiness, or even basic comfort, which is probably a precursor to any kind of happiness.

But the truth of the ads is not even an issue as long as the government declares itself immune from even examining false advertising claims against itself.

by philo
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 1:02 PM
You make a good point. The state government should be accountable to the Federal government for the adds it runs.
Even though I don't think you have a case here, there would certainly be other instances where you would.
For example, "Milk is good for you." Is it? Filled with steriods and fat, is it really?
"Great cheese comes from happy cows- happy cows come from california?" Does great cheese come from California?
Is that crap in thin slices at the store even really cheese?
How about people with a liver condition from too many chemicals and additives? Is it good for them?
Though I think that PETA goes too far sometimes, still, you have some good insights as to animal cruelty.
by b
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 2:03 PM
"Dairy cows by and large do not roam in giant wide-open fields. Not here in California, the largest dairy state in the nation (perhaps anywhere). That would be inefficient. What you see here is the real picture of dairy cows in California today. "
The picture "cowsjustkicknit" is of the cows being milked. The cows stand in the milking barn for as little as 45 min. No one leaves their cows in all day. Take the time to learn a little bit before you spout off.
Yes, it is a real picture of cows in modern intensive farming conditions. If they live in that barn all day or are transferred to another, or live crowded in a pen in the mud just outside, we cannot tell from this one picture.

The point being, that picture is representative of cows on the farm today, with the milking machines hooked to them in this shot, and the image from the TV ad at the top of this post has virtually nothing to do with reality, misleading consumers of milk and cheese into thinking there is no suffering involved in the modern treatment of dairy cows.
by go bye bye
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 4:22 PM
Cow feed is too expensive to leave the cows in a pen or a barn for their whole life. Why pay for the cutting and hauling of hay when the cows will walk out there, eat and come back of their own accord to be milked. When dairy men have to "pay" for feed, you should hear the moaning. Why pay someone to muck out the pen and the barn when they will walk out and deposit it themself in the field. The amount that they deposit just during milking and while waiting to be milked is a big enough pian to clean up. The image of cows in a field exists because that is where you find cows.
by RTD
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 4:35 PM
all this talk about happy cows-i mean does anyone really care? i think that every argument relly goes bak to OURSELVES. we don't want steriods in them (unless you play pro baseball) because of how it affects us. whether they are penned up all day or not they are made to consume for the cheapest price and that's all the average american cares about- who has the whopper for 99 cents the closest to my house...
by philo
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 4:48 PM
What is "suffering" and when is it bad? When a person suffers for no reason we pity them. But when someone suffers for a higher good then we consider it noble. For example, Mel Gibson in Braveheart as William Wallace. We watch it and think "wow-what a noble sacrifice."
So if cows suffer for no reason it is bad, but if they experience some suffering for the higher purpose of feeding mankind maybe it's not all bad???
by and by
Friday Apr 22nd, 2005 4:58 PM
EDITORIAL DESK | January 5, 2004, Monday

Editorial Observer; Holstein Dairy Cows and the Inefficient Efficiencies of Modern Farming

By VERLYN KLINKENBORG (NYT) Editorial 982 words
Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 16 , Column 1

ABSTRACT - Verlyn Klinkenborg Editorial Observer says fate of dairy cattle is identical to beef cattle's fate; says dairy cows spend their lives in barns standing on cement where they are milked automatically by huge machines; says intention in diary industry is to streamline, modernize, automate, but consequence has been to concentrate power and money in hands of few, to drive down prices and force small dairy producers out of business

New York Times



downed cowCorporate-owned factories where cows are warehoused in huge sheds and treated like milk machines have replaced most small family farms. With genetic manipulation and intensive production technologies, it is common for modern dairy cows to produce 100 pounds of milk a day— 10 times more than they would produce in nature. To keep milk production as high as possible, farmers artificially inseminate cows every year. Growth hormones and unnatural milking schedules cause dairy cows' udders to become painful and so heavy that they sometimes drag on the ground, resulting in frequent infections and overuse of antibiotics. Cows— like all mammals— make milk to feed their own babies— not humans.



Viva! (from Central Valley) investigations have revealed that most cows are kept in confined areas on dirt and cement floors; and the babies, sometimes only a few hours old, are taken from their mothers. Because cows produce significant amounts of milk for only ten months after they have birthed a calf, they are forced to continuously have babies in order to keep the milk flowing.

Production is artificially stimulated through injections of a recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). BST use can painfully injure lactating cows by draining calcium from bones and tissues, causing ulcers along their backbone and swelling of leg joints.


btw, read this and see how "noble" you think it is...

"California is now the nation's leading dairy state, and most of the cows are in the Central Valley, creating as much natural waste as a city of 21 million."


by and by
Monday Apr 25th, 2005 3:15 PM
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