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The following editorial, about a lawsuit filed against the Tillamook Creamery Association, appeared Aug. 28 in the East Oregonian:

We remember when we found out that chocolate chip cookies weren't made by elves in a hollow tree.

Had we not been 8 at the time, we might have hired a lawyer and taken the folks at Keebler to court for falsely suggesting it was elven magic that made the cookies and other snacks so good. Such a case would have been thrown out of court.

But that lawsuit would have had more merit than one filed against the Tillamook Creamery Association by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

The dairy cooperative is accused in the lawsuit of unjustly enriching itself and violating Oregon trade practices law by touting small family farms with pasture-raised cows when most of its milk is sourced from the "most industrialized dairy factory farm in the country."

About two-thirds of the creamery's milk comes from 32,000 dairy cows raised at Threemile Canyon Farms' facility in Boardman, "where cows are continuously confined, milked by robotic carousels, and afflicted with painful udder infections," the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint claims that while the company advertises its dairy products as being produced in Tillamook County with "small-scale traditional farming methods," it's heavily reliant on a distant "mega-dairy" that's large enough to be "visible from space."

Tillamook is a farmer-owned cooperative. The sale of cheese, butter and ice cream on a national scale benefits those farmers.

Unlike Keebler, which specifically claimed its products were made in a hollow tree by elves, Tillamook has never claimed that all its products are made in Tillamook or all the milk is sourced from its members.

That Tillamook sources milk from Threemile Canyon Farms and other large dairies outside Tillamook County has never been a secret. 

We're not sure what "traditional farming methods" consumers imagine are utilized by co-op members who have appeared in Tillamook advertising. With the exception of scale, many of their methods are similar to those employed at Threemile Canyon.

Milking carousels — robotic or otherwise — are common on the dairies of farmer-owners in Tillamook County. No commercial-scale dairy milks by hand.

"Painful udder infections" occur on small family farms too, even on organic dairies. Beef cows get them, too. Dairy producers take great care to prevent the infections and to treat them once they appear.

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In 2012 PETA sued the California Milk Advisory Board claiming its popular "happy cow" promotion was false advertising. A judge threw that case out.

An Oregon judge should do the same with this case.

(In the interest of full disclosure and to avoid litigation, we admit to leading readers on a bit. We thought Chips Ahoy were a lot better than the Keebler cookies, but the Nabisco advertising campaign didn't fit our narrative.)

Just hang up

A longer version of the following editorial, about how consumers can prevent scams, appeared Aug. 27 in the Medford Mail Tribune:

Robocalls are annoying at best, and potentially costly at worst. And they're becoming more frequent. One call-blocking company estimates Americans received 48 billion robocalls in 2018.

Government agencies and phone companies are responding to consumer frustration by vowing to take meaningful action, but that will take time, and it may never eliminate all unwanted calls. Consumers must take action themselves to avoid falling victim to scams.

Automated phone calling systems are getting more sophisticated; for instance, they can make it appear the call is coming from a government office such as the Social Security Administration. Other illegal marketing calls appear to come from a local number or one somewhere else in the state, when the real source may be overseas.

If you have a smartphone, you already have some tools to protect yourself. If the number isn't in your saved contacts, you can just ignore it. If it's a legitimate call, the caller will leave a voicemail message. If no message appears, you can reasonably assume it wasn't a legitimate call.

If you answer the call and it's a scam (a recorded voice telling you you've won a free cruise, for instance), you can hang up and block the number from ever calling you again. Scammers get around this by using different numbers, but at least it slows them down.

If you have only a land line, and you don't have caller ID, it's tougher to combat the scourge. The best recourse in that situation is to simply hang up. Never give anyone your address, Social Security number or other identifying information over the phone.

Recently, 12 telephone companies announced an agreement with all 51 state attorneys general aimed at combating robocalls. The companies will provide free call-blocking technology to customers, implement technology to authenticate calls and monitor networks for robocall traffic.

You can be sure the scammers will respond by coming up with new ways to evade this technology. That's why it's essential that everyone becomes their own best defender: Just hang up.

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