A recent report compiled by the Workers’ Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York reveals just how terrible dairy farms are for workers. New York ranks fourth in milk production and third in number of dairy farms nationally, and its milk sales represent more than 50 percent of the state’s total agricultural sales. In such a large, profit-driven industry, cruelty is inevitable and rampant.
While we know dairy farms are inherently cruel to animals, we often forget about people who are forced to work in an industry that cares only about its bottom line. A whopping 93 percent of New York dairy farm workers are undocumented immigrants who are easily exploited.
In a 12-hour workday, dairy workers may not even get a five-minute break, and like all agricultural workers in New York, they are excluded from the right to a day off or compensation for overtime. Their pay hovers just above minimum wage. And one-fifth of employers “have made explicit reference to [workers’] ethnicity or citizenship status in a demeaning or intimidating manner.”
Also shocking is that two-thirds of dairy workers in New York have experienced one or more injuries on the job, with 68 percent of those injuries being serious enough to require medical attention. Except for medical help, undocumented dairy workers rarely leave the farms, sometimes only once in 11 days. They fear being caught as undocumented, a fear constantly reinforced by the intimidating remarks about their citizenship status.
The scariest part of this survey?
More than 88 percent of the workers surveyed believe their employers care more about the well-being of the cows than about the workers.
Life for the cows couldn’t be any worse. Watch this Mercy For Animals undercover video of New York’s largest dairy farm.
The best way to end the cycle of cruelty—for animals and workers—is to end dairy consumption altogether.
Luckily, there are vegan versions of your favorite dairy products. Click here to get started.