Jennifer Laycock, a work from home mother and breastfeeding support person is being threatened with a lawsuit by the National Pork Board. Yes – you heard me right. Apparently a tee shirt promoting breast milk is slanderous to their reputation.
Jennifer owns and runs a website called The Lactivist which promotes breastfeeding and supports mothers who are trying to feed their infants naturally, something we all know can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Her website uses humor, tongue in cheek parody and funny slogans to promote breastfeeding and milk banks. In fact, large portions of the proceeds are donated to local milk banks or spent to help publicize this growing health choice. Milk banks provide alternative sources of breast milk for babies who are not able to be nursed by their own mothers due to adoption, medical conditions or other factors.
So how could a simple tee shirt make the National Pork Board, a government funded association, take such an offense to that they threatened this small town mother with a heavy-handed lawsuit? One of her tee-shirts simply read “The other white milk”. Apparently they are so opposed to breast milk they can’t even spell it correctly. Nor do they have any clue what breastfeeding or The Lactivist website is about as evidenced by the following.
In a Cease and Desist letter they sent Ms. Laycock on February 1st they stated, “In addition, your use of this slogan also tarnishes the good reputation of the National Pork Board’s mark in light of your apparent attempt to promote the use of [breastmilk] beyond merely for infant consumption, such as with the following slogans on your website in close proximity to the slogan “The Other White Milk.” “Dairy Diva,” “Nursing, Nature’s Own Breast Enhancement,” “Eat at Mom’s, fast-fresh-from the breast,” and “My Milk is the Breast.”
Wait, what was that? Breast milk is so despicable that an association of pork and the pork industry with breast milk in any way is slanderous to their reputation? Are they serious? This organization is seriously going to tell me that feeding my baby girl is a shameful thing that “tarnishes a good reputation”? This isn’t some fetish website. The Lactivist is run by a Christian, caring mother who wants healthy options available for all babies.
This is an especially ironic stance considering that the federal government has issued several pieces of legislation designed to protect a woman’s right to breastfeed, encourage employers to provide nursing friendly rooms at work and support mothers who are both working and breastfeeding. Other government sponsored organizations provide lactation consultants at hospitals, free breast pumps to working mothers and nutritious food vouchers for mothers to enhance the quality of their breast milk.
This is the same federal government that in 1985 first created the organization as part of an initiative to promote US Pork in a world wide market. In fact, according to The National Pork Board website, their official stated purpose is “contributing to the success of all pork producers by managing issues related to research, education and product promotion and by establishing U.S. Pork as the preferred protein worldwide.” Too bad they didn’t stick to their purpose but decided to threaten, insult and bully breastfeeding mothers instead.
The trademark in question was originally owned by the National Pork Producers Council but was purchased last year by the government run organization.
In her blog Jennifer states that she doesn’t yet know what she is going to do. “The other white milk” shirts have been removed from the CafePress website already but she had been ordered to destroy all remaining shirts by February 5th.