• Fonterra

last modified January 10 by strypey

According to Wikipedia, "Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is a New Zealand multinational dairy co-operative owned by around 10,500 New Zealand farmers". It was formed in a merger of most of the independent dairy cooperatives that previously existed in Aotearoa (NZ).

Fonterra's main activity is drying milk into powdered "milk solids", so it can be exported as a low-value bulk commodity, for use in manufacturing infant formula and various kinds of junk food. This allows their farmer-members to produce more far milk than the population of Aotearoa (NZ) can consume, which has allowed a rapid intensification of dairy farming, in areas where it would otherwise not be economic. This leads to animal abuse, and a raft of environmental problems, including habitat loss, waterway degredation, water shortages, soil loss, over-use of industrial chemicals like superphosphate (leading to accumulation of heavy metals like cadmium in the soil) and so on.

Fonterra have also been criticized for mistreatment of workers, who unlike the dairy farmers, have no democratic rights within the cooperative. From their point of view, Fonterra is just another multinational corporation. They've also been criticized their investment in SanLu, a Chinese dairy company "whose melamine-tainted milk caused 294,000 Chinese infants to be ill or hospitalised, including six deaths", which had to be written off in 2009.

Dairy farming has come up increasing public criticism from animal rights groups because it unavoidably involves forcibly impregnating cows once a year so their bodies produce much more milk than any mammal would in nature. The resulting "bobby calves" are removed from their mothers within 24 hours of birth, with the females being raised to replace their mothers when they are too exhausted to keep producing milk, and the vast majority of the males either slaughtered for meat within 3-4 days, or raised them for veal and slaughtered at 1 year old.