I Drink fairlife And I Feel Good About It

Mike Opperman ( Farm Journal )

Last night I went to the store and bought a half-gallon of fairlife chocolate milk. Then I went home, poured a glass and drank it. And I felt good about it.

Recently a video was released showing some pretty despicable treatment of calves by employees at Fair Oaks Farms. Fair Oaks Farms has a connection to fairlife. The owners of Fair Oaks, Mike and Sue McCloskey, started Select Milk cooperative, which partnered with Coca Cola to create and market fairlife. The product has been one of the most successful fluid milk innovations in the history of the dairy industry. 

The activist group that produced the video is calling for a boycott of fairlife as a way to protest the acts shown in the video and in some way punish Fair Oaks for allowing those acts to happen.

On the contrary, I poured that glass of milk and drank it because I support Fair Oaks. I did it because of what I know, not because of what I don’t know.

I know the practices shown on the video were conducted by people who have no regard for animal care. I also know that within the employee pool at Fair Oaks, they were the exception and not the rule. I sense this because three of the four employees were fired even before the video was released because other employees adhered to the “see it, say it” rule and reported them for other animal abuse violations.  

By the way, the undercover activist who shot the video obviously did not adhere to that rule. 

I am also able to put context around the footage shown in the video and, therefore, assume that what happened was an isolated incident. That undercover employee collected a vast amount of video over their several months of employment. From that vast amount of video they were able to find a few minutes of abuse. Let’s see the rest of the footage that shows animals being cared for the right way.

I also bought fairlife because I know that when bad things like this happen, boycotting a product is a way of turning your back on those actions. You’re angry about what you saw, and therefore you’re going to punish the company responsible. As you walk away, you’ve done nothing to effect change, in fact you just exacerbated the problem rather than being a part of the solution.

People who boycott brands act the same as the cooperatives and retail brands that cut off the milk supply from dairies that have been part of undercover videos. I know why they do it – to appease consumer outcry. But it tells me that those brands have no real vested interest in dairy farmers or the animals on dairy farms. If they did, they would help work with those dairies to make sure changes are made so those heinous actions never happen again. Instead backs are turned and, for all they know, those actions continue unabated.  

Wouldn’t it be great if the folks at fairlife came out and said that they stand beside Fair Oaks Farms? That they know that the incidents were isolated and done by rogue employees and not a reflection of what happens every day on the farm? Wouldn’t it be great if they vowed to work with Fair Oaks to make sure this didn’t happen again? Wouldn’t it be great if they were a voice of reason and not a voice of reaction? Maybe someday a brand will have enough gumption to take that stand. 

Until then, I’ll do my part to support the dairy producers who make the milk that goes into great products like fairlife. And I’ll do it with a clear conscious, knowing that I’m supporting a solution, not growing the problem. 

What do you think of the Fair Oaks situation? Are you boycotting fairlife? Let me know at [email protected]

Check out these related headlines:

Activist Video Shows Abuse At Fair Oaks Farms

Chicago Grocery Chain Drops fairlife Following Activist Video


Also, I discussed the Fair Oaks video and response on Overhe(a)rd, the Farm Journal Livestock podcast, here: 



Submitted by I came to this article to learn more on Thu, 06/06/2019 - 19:56

You claim that you felt good because of what you know, but then you talk sensing and assuming.

Submitted by Susan on Thu, 06/06/2019 - 21:11

I would never, ever buy fairlife after seeing what I saw.

Submitted by C J C on Thu, 06/06/2019 - 23:34

Uhhh...I get where your values are coming from...and while I eat meat and animal products...I don't think this is the train you want to hop on, or the example you want to use to make a point. This is pretty blatant and wide-spread animal abuse. If you want to keep the industry alive, you have got to call out and not accept when things truly are WRONG.

Submitted by Nick on Fri, 06/07/2019 - 07:35

You are completely off base with this. There should be zero tolerance for animal cruelty and mistreatment. I work for one of the largest purchasers of milk in the country and we do not tolerate any cruelty to animals.

Submitted by John on Fri, 06/07/2019 - 07:38

As a farmer and cattle producer I have to say that video made me sick to my stomach and I had to shut it off before the end. Regardless of the hidden agenda behind the video the owners of Fair Oaks Dairy need to take responsibility for it plausible deniability of these actions by their employees doesn’t cut the mustard here. It’s a shame that they as farmers have helped in an already difficult time bring a bad name to the rest of the farmers who actually care. God put us on this earth to take care of his animals they should be treated like more than a number. I have no problem boycotting Coca Cola products and fair life milk and that makes me feel good.

Submitted by M.Hunt on Sun, 07/21/2019 - 18:39

I’m with you. Thank you for voicing the proper response to this occurrence.

In reply to by John (not verified)