On August 19th the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, filed a lawsuit against the Tillamook County Creamery Association for its misrepresentations about the source of its milk and the conditions in which the cows live. The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a class of Oregon consumers.
Tillamook’s advertising campaigns are designed to tell consumers that the company’s products are sourced from humane, pasture-based, small-scale family farms, where animal care standards exceed those of other dairy companies. But this is far from reality.
The Tillamook County Creamery Association’s heavily advertised “co-op” of small family farms in Tillamook County represent just a tiny proportion of the company’s production. In reality, Tillamook sources up to 80 percent of its milk from the largest dairy feedlot in the United States. Located in the desert of eastern Oregon, the facility that provides the majority of Tillamook’s milk keeps 32,000 dairy cows (and more than 70,000 cows total) in inhumane, industrialized conditions. Tillamook sells dairy products nationwide under the “Tillamook” brand name, and is poised to do over $1 billion in sales in 2020.
While some of Tillamook’s ads encouraged consumers to “Say Goodbye to Big Food,” Tillamook is in fact the epitome of “Big Food.” Rather than living freely on the rolling green hills depicted in Tillamook advertising, the cows are artificially impregnated, have their calves ripped from them shortly after birth to stimulate milk production, and are continuously confined and milked by robotic carousels at this cement-floored factory farm.
“Consumers care about animals. That’s why they are increasingly seeking out products that cause less animal suffering,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Tillamook is exploiting consumers’ desire to treat animals better by misleading people about how its cows are kept. This violates the public’s trust and violates the law.”
The class action lawsuit seeks to stop Tillamook’s deceptive advertising, which misleads consumers and violates multiple Oregon consumer protection laws.
As consumers become more aware of the cruelty in factory farming, demand grows for animal products produced in less abusive conditions. But some producers and retailers are advertising their products in ways designed to trick consumers into believing that their products are more “humane,” sometimes referred to as “humane washing.” The Animal Legal Defense Fund aims to stop this misleading, illegal conduct — to protect farmed animals and ensure consumers can make choices based on truthful information.
For more information, visit aldf.org.
Featured image: a dairy cow in a barn in Sweden. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / Djurrattsalliansen