Wisconsin dairy farmer invites Joaquin Phoenix to see life ‘on the farm’ after Oscars speech

Wisconsin dairy farmer responds to Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscars speech on the dairy industry

WAUKESHA COUNTY, Wis. — A Wisconsin farmer has a message for Joaquin Phoenix, whose acceptance speech for winning an Academy Award for Best Actor struck a sour nerve among the dairy industry.

“See what life is like on the farm,” Tom Oberhaus told WISN-TV.

Phoenix, 45, who won the Oscar for his portrayal of the lead character in the film, “Joker,” gave an impassioned speech. Part of his speech was a plea for animal rights and criticism of the dairy industry, saying humans “go to the natural world and we plunder it for its resources."

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“I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world,” Phoenix said. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth we steal her baby even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And we take her milk intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”

The speech drew a sharp rebuke from the National Milk Producers Federation, according to Fox News.

"If he (Phoenix) studied the commitment of dairy farmers to animal welfare and had a fuller understanding of the contribution of dairy products to a nutritious diet, especially for children, he might have a different perception of the value that dairy contributes to global health and the importance of the dairy sector to global livelihood,” Alan Bjerga, a spokesman for the federation, told the network.

Oberhaus, who said he did not watch the Academy Awards ceremony, has been a dairy farmer in Wisconsin for 35 years. He has a degree in dairy science from Ohio State University and was a director on the Waukesha County Farm Bureau.

Oberhaus dismissed Phoenix’s comments.

“We just wave it off and go hey ding-dong you don’t have any idea what’s going on here at the farm,” Oberhaus told WISN. “I mean I’d love it if he’d come out here for a couple hours -- that would be awesome. That’s an invite, Mr. Phoenix. C’mon out. See what life is like on the farm.”

Dairy farmers had a sour reaction to Joaquin Phoenix's acceptance speech at the Academy Awards.
Dairy farmers had a sour reaction to Joaquin Phoenix's acceptance speech at the Academy Awards. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)