Bungay farming family donate This Morning TV appearance fee to charity after online abuse
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A Suffolk farming family which endured a vicious torrent of online abuse from vegan activists have donated their TV appearance fee to a charity dedicated to stopping cyberbullying.
Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore, owners of Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay, endured three weeks of attacks via Facebook and Twitter including chilling death threats and fake bad reviews of their business. Some of the abuse was directed at their two young children.
After appearing on ITV’s This Morning show to debate with an Australian vegan activist and defend the dairy industry against claims of animal cruelty, they have decided to donate their £400 appearance fee to the charity cybersmile.org, which helps people tackle digital trolling and online bullying.
Mr Crickmore said: “It didn’t feel right that we should make money from such a horrible experience. We just felt that we wanted to try and turn a bad thing into something good.
“This was our first ever experience of online trolling and it left us feeling very drained. It made us think a lot about the damaging effect this type of thing could have on someone young or vulnerable.
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“It has made us more determined to be good people, to be kind to one another, respect others and try to do good things when we can. The only way counteract negativity is to outshine it with positivity.”
After the threats, a spokesman for The Vegan Society said the incident was “not representative of the vegan movement”, adding: “We certainly condemn any threats of violence and encourage vegan activists to share their messages peacefully and positively.”
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Mr Crickmore agreed that farmers should also engage in open and positive discussions, and said educational school visits, Open Farm Sunday and awareness campaigns such as Februdairy could all help put the industry’s message across.
“I feel discussing your farming practices openly is very important,” he said. “I have spoken to vegans over the phone. Certainly the ones I spoke with admitted they knew very little about dairy farming and once I explained why everything was done in a certain way, they understood better and felt more happy that we do look after our animals and give them good lives.
“I also mentioned there were many parts of the industry I too didn’t agree with, and said it would be better to concentrate their time and energy on the worst parts where animal cruelty was a big issue and needed addressing. Animal welfare should always be on the table for discussion but aggression and hate speech against farmers only damages those discussions.
“The more transparent the livestock industries can be, the less vulnerable they become to attacks like these. We always give honest, open answers to anyone who asks politely and we are really happy to discuss every aspect of our animals’ lives.”