INDIANAPOLIS — Having a celebrity as a spokesman can be a
huge advantage for an organization.
That is why People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
fully supported actor Ryan Gosling when he sent a letter to Jerry Kozak,
president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, addressing the
practice of dehorning.
In his letter, Gosling said dehorning is “one of the most
painful things done to cows on dairy farms, whether it is by burning a calf with
a searing hot iron or applying caustic paste to create a chemical burn that eats
away at the animal’s flesh.”
At the recent National Dairy Producers Conference, Kozak
acknowledged that Gosling sent him the letter.
He said that he will write a response, but has not yet had
time to publicly address the actor’s concerns because he has been in the middle
of immigration reform talks and planning for the annual conference.
Kozak said he believes the fundamental issue behind
Gosling’s letter is that PETA wants everybody to be a vegan. That is the main
motive behind animal advocates who are becoming increasingly interested in
livestock practices, he said.
Gosling suggested that there is a simple and humane
alternative to dehorning: breeding for polled cows.
But, the dairy leader countered, “it’s not practical to
eliminate dehorning of animals.”
Kozak, who has worked on farms in the past, mentioned that
the NMPF’s FARM Program is dedicated to helping take care of animals and has
outlined a proper course on dehorning cattle.
It is ironic that the actor’s letter expressed concern about
animal welfare and dehorning, he noted, because PETA also voiced concern about
worker safety in the animal industry and cows with horns can cause serious
injury to dairymen, as well as themselves.
Gosling referenced genetics that recently have been
developed for breeding polled cattle. But it still will take a number of years
for geneticists to completely understand how the genes work, Kozak said.
He said the NMPF, of course, is looking at the genetic
process and if it will lead to better care of cattle and reduced stress on the
However, he explained, it is just not possible to utilize
this technology yet.
Kozak added that he enjoys Gosling’s films, thinks he’s a
great actor and has a lot of respect for his profession, but he never would send
him a letter recommending how he should act.