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Cows, lights, action: farmer Jess accepts her Oscar

By Dairy News

YOU CAN’T deny the passion Pennsylvanian farmer Jessica Peters has for the dairy industry.

Jess aims to educate the public on the day to day running of her family dairy farm through her Instagram page ‘seejessfarm’ and she is also a regular contributor to popular United States’ dairy magazine Hoards Dairyman.

When Joaquin Phoenix denounced dairy farming to millions of people in his recent Oscar’s speech, Jess was of course angry — but knows it’s better to get even than get angry, so she decided to write her own acceptance speech.

“Instead of matching hate with hate, I’d rather show the world how much I love this life and what it has meant to me,” Jess said.

She has allowed us to reproduce it here in Australia.

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. I can’t believe I’m standing up here right now. This thing is way heavier than I expected it to be, and so shiny! This is so unexpected; I didn’t even prepare a speech!

I have so many people to thank. I think I’ll be thanking all the people who got me here for the rest of my life. Thanks to the Academy for this honour. Obviously, I want to thank Steven Spielberg for taking a chance on me. Never having acted before, I owe you an ice cream cone! He knows what that means.

A huge thanks goes out to Chris Hemsworth for playing my love interest; the chemistry was undeniable. And Meryl, how could I not up my acting game with a legend like Meryl Streep in my corner.

Look, I’m no Hollywood hotshot; I’m just a dairy farmer who recently discovered that she’s an amazing actress.

Growing up on a dairy farm was the role of a lifetime. I knew the value of hard work and never took the fun times for granted. I learned how to appreciate the miracle of life and to respect the sacrifice of death.

Although animals are not our equal, it was easy to see that it was our responsibility to treat them with the love and respect with which we treat each other.

Those animals taught me so much. They taught me how to listen even though they don’t speak and showed me how it feels to truly love what you do.

There’s something so old-fashioned and yet futuristic in working the land with your own hands. It’s an honour working the same land that’s been passed down from generation to generation while preserving it for the generations to come.

Farmers all over the world literally work their fingers to the bone to give us the things we need to survive.

The food we ate tonight. Farmers. The building we’re sitting in. Farmers. The clothes we’re wearing and the alcohol we’ll be drinking later? *pause for laughter* Thank a farmer. A lot of people out there think farmers are part of the problem, when we are really part of the solution.

Look, before they play me off, I need to thank the people who really got me here. Farming is truly a team sport, and I couldn’t have hand-picked a better team than my family. There really is nothing like spending a long day working side-by-side with the people you love the most. So, from this farm kid to the world, thanks. Now, let’s party until the cows come home — because someone else is milking them tonight.

Jess and her younger brother Cole bought into the family farm, Spruce Row Farm and they are now the fifth generation of their family to farm the land.

Together with their parents Jeff and Janet, they milk 250 Jerseys on 243 ha.

Jess describes her farm as a typical set up — the family milk twice a day and grow their own crops of corn and alfalfa with the help of one full-time employee and four part-timers.

“Keeping our labour costs low is one of the ways we’ve been able to survive in this business,” Jess said.

They take pride in their stock and have over the years produced some of the top Jerseys in the country for production, components, and genetics.

Jess said uneducated people including celebrities have been targeting the dairy industry for years.

“The problem is they have people constantly whispering in their ear and I don’t know many farmers who live similar lives to celebrities.

“Between economic, political, and regulatory issues farmers are definitely feeling the odds stacked against them. Public perception of what we do is making it worse, for sure.

Like many dairy farmers around the world, Jess is unsure of the future that awaits her and the next generation.

“I hope it means continuing to farm, but no-one’s future is a certain right now,” she said.