In this file:

 

·         What we can learn from the undercover video taken at Fair Oaks Farms

As activists wage war on animal agriculture, here’s what producers can do today to stop bad actors who abuse livestock, protect themselves from bad employees and take ownership on consumer conversations about animal welfare.

 

·         Undercover video shows animal cruelty at Fair Oaks Farms, founder admits

Founder releases statement following video release

 

 

What we can learn from the undercover video taken at Fair Oaks Farms

As activists wage war on animal agriculture, here’s what producers can do today to stop bad actors who abuse livestock, protect themselves from bad employees and take ownership on consumer conversations about animal welfare.

 

Amanda Radke, Opinion, BEEF Magazine

Jun 05, 2019

 

On June 4, an undercover video shot and produced by the activist group, Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), was released to the public. Some of the video footage included animal abuse that occurred at Fair Oaks Farms, an Indiana dairy operation and popular agricultural tourism destination.

 

In an official statement, Mike McCloskey, DVM, the founder of Fair Oaks Farm said, “It is a shock and an eye-opener for us to discover that under our watch, we had employees who showed disregard for our animals, our processes and for the rule of law. This ARM video shines a light on an area that – despite our thorough training, employee on-boarding procedures and overall commitment to animal welfare – needs improvement.

 

“However, as I have stated before, the fact that ARM takes months before notifying owners or authorities regarding ongoing animal abuse is concerning. I have personally reached out to ARM’s founder, Richard Couto, to discuss a more symbiotic relationship, but he has yet to reach back.

 

“A full investigation of all aspects of the video is underway, during and after which disciplinary action will be taken, including termination and criminal prosecution, of any and all employees and managers who have violated either our animal care practices or the law or both.”

 

Read McCloskey’s full statement here [link], and while you’re there, browse the comments section to gain some perspective on how the general public views the abuse and Fair Oaks’ response to the bad actors in this scenario.

 

Additionally, my friend Carrie Mess, a Wisconsin dairy farmer who is a strong advocate for the dairy industry on social media, offers her perspective on hiring employees and doing the best you can as a business owner.

 

An excerpt from a statement Mess posted on Facebook reads, “You see, when we hire someone, we aren't just trusting them with a cash register or inventory. We are trusting that whoever we hire will do the right thing by our cows. Living, breathing animals that have been entrusted to our care. We are trusting whoever we hire will not only live up to our expectations as their employer, but also to your expectations of our farm because you are our customer.

 

“Cows aren't always compliant. You can't reason with them. You can't explain the plan to them and have them understand you. They can be incredibly frustrating to work with at times. Cows can cause people to lose their patience and sometimes the person losing their patience is the person you hired. The person you have to trust will make the right choice when things don't go their way.

 

“Last night I hired a new employee. I will train him, I will have him sign an agreement to care for our ladies with respect, I will supervise him. At some point I will leave him on his own to do some work and I will put my trust in him because I have to, to get the job done. I will put my trust in him because I believe that although evil exists, most humans are good. That is the best I can do, that is the best any of us can do.”

 

Read her full story here [link], and again, check out the comments to gain insights on the consumer response to this video and Mess’ attempt to reach the general public and connect with them on a personal level. I think she does a great job of it, and the comments reflect that.

 

As we watch this situation unfold, what can we as beef producers do to eliminate instances of abuse, protect ourselves from employees who wish to do us or our animals harm and ultimately, reassure our consumers that animal welfare is a top priority on our farms and ranches?

 

First, let’s talk about animal abuse ...

 

Next, let’s talk about these undercover videos ...

 

Third, how can we own the conversations about animal welfare with our consumers? ...

 

Finally, I think this statement from the Animal Agriculture Alliance (Alliance) sums up well how many of us in agriculture are feeling about what happened at Fair Oaks Farms ...

 

To recap, I’ll say these four things ...

 

more, including links

https://www.beefmagazine.com/beef-quality/what-we-can-learn-undercover-video-taken-fair-oaks-farms

 

 

Undercover video shows animal cruelty at Fair Oaks Farms, founder admits

Founder releases statement following video release

 

By: Kara Kenney, RTV 6 Indianapolis

Jun 04, 2019

 

FAIR OAKS — A Florida-based animal welfare group released disturbing footage Tuesday of animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farms, located in northwest Indiana.

 

The farm is a popular tourist attraction off of I-65 between Indianapolis and Chicago, and offers tours of their dairy operations to visitors and student field trips.

 

The Animal Recovery Mission conducted an undercover investigation between August and November 2018 after one of their investigators was hired as a calf care employee at the Fair Oaks Farms Prairies Edge North Barn.

 

Undercover video captured employees throwing calves in and out of their huts, calves kicked and slammed to the ground, a worker sitting on top of a calf.

 

The investigator also witnessed calves being stabbed and beaten with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, and faces and bodies burned with hot branding irons, according to the Animal Recovery Mission.

 

Read the full ARM report here [link] .

 

The undercover worker was instructed, according to the report, to transport dead calves using back roads to a hidden dump area.

 

“At no time shall a tourist or tour bus see the workers disposing of the dead,” read the report. “This would hurt the image of the company.”

 

The group also alleges employees used marijuana and cocaine while working on the farm.

 

The report also alleges employees shot sick and injured cows, but did not shoot properly, which led to hours of pain and suffering before dying.

 

In the video, calves appear to be struggling to breath without receiving proper medical treatment.

 

Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey provided the following statement to RTV6 Tuesday in which he called the employees’ actions “despicable.”

 

“This morning I was made aware of an animal abuse video that the group Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) produced and has released to the public and the press. Most of the footage for this video was captured on one of the dairies that belongs to Fair Oaks Farms. While we were made aware a couple months ago of the fact that ARM had gone undercover at Fair Oaks Farms, and had proactively made a statement ( link ), we had no idea what kind of footage had been captured or what – if any – abuse had occurred.

 

It is with great disappointment to find, after closely reviewing the released ARM video, that there were five individuals committing multiple instances of animal cruelty and despicable judgement. Of the five, four were our employees and one was a 3rd party truck driver who was picking up calves. Of the four who were our employees, three had already been terminated prior to us being made aware months ago of the undercover ARM operation, as they were identified by their co-workers as being abusive of our animals and reported to management. So, in this instance our policy of cow care training - “see something, say something” - worked. After reviewing the video frame-by-frame, those three employees are responsible for the overwhelming majority of offenses seen in this video.

 

Unfortunately, the fourth employee’s animal abuse was not caught at that same time. Although he underwent another training session in animal care when we discovered there was an undercover ARM operation on our farm, after viewing the extent of his animal abuse, he is being terminated today.

 

As to the individual who worked for the transportation company...

 

more, including links, video report [1:25 min.]  

https://www.theindychannel.com/news/call-6-investigators/undercover-video-shows-animal-cruelty-at-fair-oaks-farms-founder-admits