Belle Galloway, Bovine Activist

Call me Belle Galloway. I am a cow and I speak for my sisters. I am the public policy director of the VBA, the Vermont Bovine Association. My organization represents about 280,000 registered Vermont dairy cows. Our members have long been a staple of the Vermont landscape and have provided staples on your dinner tables. Our milk has nourished Vermont’s young since Native American hunter-gatherers were first displaced by farming settlers from Europe.

We’ve always had to fight for our rights and I’m here to tell you about our latest battle. We were at the heart of the Bovine Revolution at the turn of the century, driving out the lazy and shiftless sheep population that went to Utah along with their Mormon brethren. The sheep had virtually eaten Vermont bare and the nascent tourism industry had nothing to show city folk except fields and forests chewed down to a nubbin.

The VBA’s crack legal team of heifers defended the intellectual property rights of our members against persistent copyright infringement by Vermont artists. Tourists were snapping up anything with a Holstein on it and arty dilettantes all over Vermont were obliging this obsession by transgressing our members’ copyrights. We won that battle, but the outcome of that case was by no means certain. While it was being litigated, a number of Vermont Holsteins had themselves repainted as Guernseys by itinerant Quebec decorative artists to avoid lawsuits.

I lobbied hard with your organic folk against BST. Would you take a supplement that took you from a 34B to a 36-triple F? I’ve heard your athletes routinely gobble steroids that have a similar effect on their muscles and they are in trouble. Monsanto executives swear there is no impact on consumers, but I’d like to see their wives try the stuff.

We pioneered the free stall movement, got rid of stanchions and reduced stray voltage on farms that caused bovine dyslexia and depression. We work to improve the lot of Vermont cows and to sustain the dairy farming that VPR members enjoy seeing in Vermont Life. Believe me, we like to look contented.

However, my reason for addressing you on VPR today is to share the latest indignity to our herd and to ask for your support in getting a fair deal for what we produce. The electric utilities and farmers have banded together to harvest our manure to run your air conditioners. “Cow power” they call it. Methane digesters, analogous to your long-abandoned composting toilets, are now being installed under us to produce and burn methane to generate electricity. As of now, they plan to have us sleep on the dry leftovers.

BVA has asked the VT Public Service Board for a two cent per-kilowatt-hour royalty. And we want it to be used to insulate old barns. I’m in discussions with Efficiency Vermont to ask for their support on this vital initiative.

Since the restoration of the State House, I have not been welcome in the legislative dining room in Montpelier so I’m hoping Vermonters will speak to their representatives on behalf of Vermont’s picturesque milk producers.

Belle Galloway

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