A PETITION urging media personality Dave Hughes to give up milk has frothed up an an angry reaction from dairy farming leaders who have urged rural communities to fight back.
Hughes, formerly of Warrnambool, was drawn into the controversy during a humourous chat segment this week on Melbourne radio station NOVA-FM.
He said he would think about giving up milk, saying: “I do believe milk is for baby cows, that they are the ones who should be sucking on their mother’s teats”.
This prompted a listener to create an online petition “to help curb Hughesy’s animal milk drinking habits”.
The petitioner, identified as Kirsten Ann, listed 13 reasons for ditching dairy products and said humans were the only species that drank the milk of another species.
Needless to say, her views did not go down well with farmers.
Jock O’Keefe, the Winslow-based leader of dairying lobby group Farmer Power, described the petition as part of propaganda by radicals.
He said Hughes grew up in a rural environment in Warrnambool and should be aware of the importance of dairying.
“I’d encourage him to have nothing to do with the stunt,” Mr O’Keefe said.
“This is part of unfounded attacks on rural industries. Dairy is an essential part of human diet.
“South-west residents should jump on the petition and stand up and support their dairying industry.”
Corangamite Shire mayor and former dairy farmer Cr Chris O’Connor echoed the angry reaction, as did Australian Dairy Farmers president Noel Campbell who runs a farm in West Gippsland.
Cr O’Connor had this piece of advice for the comedian: “Hey Dave, we’d rather laugh with you than at you. Remember your roots. The south-west produces one-quarter of Australia’s milk and one in five of our people are employed in dairy.”
Mr Campbell said Hughes’ upbringing in Warrnambool should have made him aware of the importance of the dairy industry to people’s livelihood and the local and national economies.
The Australian dairy industry employed 43,000 people and contributed $13 billion to the national economy, Mr Campbell said. He said Australian dietary guidelines called for people to consume more dairy products for their health.
The Standard attempted to call Hughes, but was unsuccessful.