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 animals.

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.