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Joaquin Phoenix’s speech strikes chord with dairy farmers

Somewhere between referencing the fight against injustice and recalling his late brother’s plea for love, actor Joaquin Phoenix spent a chunk of his Academy Award acceptance speech talking about cows. Dairy cows, to be specific.

On Monday, dairy farmers pushed back.

“You should get out of Hollywood for a while,” dairy farmer Carrie Mess from Lake Mills, Wisconsin, wrote on her blog. “The natural world isn’t there, it’s out here and it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”

Phoenix, who on Sunday night took home the best-actor award for his role in “Joker,” used his speech to rip on the dairy industry and the breeding of cows. 

“I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world and many of us, what we’re guilty of is an egocentric world view — the belief that we’re the center of the universe,” he said.

Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor for his work in "Joker."

“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”

That didn’t go over well with dairy farmers, who would have been happier if the actor had just jumped to the part where he acknowledged, “I have been a scoundrel.” 

A newborn calf is taken from its mother, about 20 minutes after birth, but it’s for the calf’s own safety, Wisconsin dairy farmer Tina Hinchley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY network. 

Joaquin Phoenix gives emotional tribute to brother during Oscar speech

“If that mom had manure on her, we would risk that calf, our best genetics on the farm, getting contaminated with salmonella, E. coli or listeria, along with tetanus and all the other stuff that hangs out on the farm as well,” Hinchley said.

Instead, the calf is given colostrum from its mother, and is then bottle fed with a milk-replacement formula.

“Milk replacer is the best baby formula you can get. It’s powdered milk with all the vitamins and nutrients that a calf needs,” Hinchley said.

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