In this file:

 

·         Fair Oaks Farms animal abuse: As skeptics circle, ARM delivers more undercover video

Head of animal rights group, facing skeptics about the tactics leading to graphic, underground video of abuse at Fair Oaks Farms, releases more footage he says proves it wasn’t staged

 

·         Retailers pull Fairlife products as authorities investigate alleged animal abuse at famous farm

… Fair Oaks Farms is the flagship farm for Fairlife, a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium and lower fat milk. At least three retailers — Strack & Van Til, Jewel-Osco and Family Express — began pulling Fairlife products from their shelves…

 

·         It's vigilante activist vs. politically connected farmer in Fair Oaks cruelty controversy

An animal welfare controversy that has garnered national attention pits a gun-toting activist — once described as a “Yuppie Rambo” — against an Indiana farmer so well connected he met with President Donald Trump at the White House in September and was mentioned in the governor’s State of the State Address…

 

·         Falling from grace on animal welfare: What have we learned?

The lesson for animal agriculture and the American public alike is that events like this can happen anywhere.

 

 

 

Fair Oaks Farms animal abuse: As skeptics circle, ARM delivers more undercover video

Head of animal rights group, facing skeptics about the tactics leading to graphic, underground video of abuse at Fair Oaks Farms, releases more footage he says proves it wasn’t staged

 

Dave Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier (IN)

June 7, 2019

 

FAIR OAKS, Ind. – Facing skeptics in Indiana’s farming community and on social media that undercover videos showing calves being tossed around, dragged and beaten might have been staged at Fair Oaks Farms, Animal Recovery Mission founder Richard Couto said on Friday that he released more video from the Newton County agritourism spot for context.

 

On Friday, Animal Recovery Mission released an hour-and-a-half video that amounted to an extended cut of the shorter clips the Miami Beach, Florida-based group posted Tuesday to accuse Fair Oaks Farms of abuse in one of its barns.

 

“We’re being questioned by the media, we’re being questioned by (Fair Oaks Farms owners) the McCloskeys, by law enforcement, by the greater public: ‘Well, that’s only four minutes. There’s not a lot of cruelty there,’” Couto said. “And it could be staged. By putting a long video out, with longer scenes, it’s very apparent that nothing is staged, OK?”

 

Mike McCloskey, owner and founder of Fair Oaks Farms, did not immediately respond to messages seeking a response. The Fair Oaks Farms Facebook page, where the company has been posting its responses since the release of ARM’s original video Tuesday, also hadn’t addressed the new video, as of early Friday afternoon.

 

McCloskey, through social media posts and a video, has taken blame and responsibility for what was shown on the Animal Recovery Mission video and for a breakdown in Fair Oaks’ animal welfare practices.

 

The Animal Recovery Mission’s video quickly spread, with footage of workers hitting calves with branding irons, punching them and piling dead bodies in barns out of view from the Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure, a destination spot an hour north of Lafayette for school field trips to see how a dairy farm works and near a newly opened, 99-room, $15 million Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott hotel.

 

Since the graphic footage surfaced, Fair Oaks products have taken a hit on store shelves.

 

On Wednesday, Jewel-Osco stores in Chicago and northwest Indiana and Family Express convenience stores in Indiana pulled Fairlife milk, produced at Fair Oaks’ dairy operations and distributed by Coca-Cola, from their shelves. Coca-Cola, in a company statement, stood by Fairlife, saying it had “full confidence in their management team to urgently address this issue with Fair Oaks Farms.”

 

McCloskey said four of the five individuals shown in the initial video were Fair Oaks employees, and one person was a third-party truck driver. He said in the new statement that three of the employees had been turned in by Fair Oaks co-workers and had been fired three months ago. A fourth Fair Oaks employee shown in the video was fired Tuesday, McCloskey said.

 

As the week went on, the outrage that met the first video – with past visitors saying they were bailing on what was billed as the “Disneyland of agricultural tourism – was being tempered by a farming community rallying around Fair Oaks Farms.

 

The upshot: Consider the source of the videos.

 

Brad Farrer is a transport quality assurance advisor from Delphi. His job is to help train drivers to transport hogs.

 

“I know hogs aren’t the same as dairy,” Farrer said. “But if (the McCloskeys) didn’t truly care about the animals, they wouldn’t have built that operation as big as it is. … You’ve got to realize, every industry has its bad apple.”

 

Farrer said he couldn’t condone what happened in the videos. But he said he was skeptical about how they were made. (“They were going for shock and awe, really,” Farrer said.) Farrer said he harbored doubts about whether the employees seen hurting calves were run-of-the-mill Fair Oaks employees and not ARM plants.

 

“Yes, I realize this is a conspiracy type theory,” Farrer said, “but I know the tactics of animal rights activists, and this is not that far of a stretch.”

 

Ronald Kessler is owner of Eco-Tek, a Lafayette-based startup dealing with livestock manure management. He said he’s been at Fair Oaks to conduct business and knows some of the family and top management.

 

“In no way would they condone this behavior knowingly,” Kessler said. “While not denying this happened by bad employees, the liberal press and animal rights proponents are all too willing to publish this and try to shine a bad light on livestock operations in general. (Fair Oaks Farms) is a great dairy.”

 

In the extended cut, Couto contends the new footage shows that the undercover ARM investigator took concerns about mistreatment of a calf to a supervisor – labeled as “a top manager” in the video – only to have that person leave.

 

Other parts, he said, were meant to show the difficulty employees had feeding newborn calves who were reluctant or refused to take a bottle.

 

“We wanted to show how those babies were turning away from the bottle, when they wanted the udder, and then the reaction of the workers,” Couto said. “Much of the abuse you see is stemming from frustration from the workers from the babies not milking from their artificial bottles. Then the frustration comes in from these workers, and then the beatings and forced feeding come in.”

 

On Friday, Newton County Sheriff’s Capt. Shannon Cothran said an investigation continued into the animal abuse claims at Fair Oaks Farms. Cothran said he couldn’t comment on the progress. Previously, the sheriff’s office indicated it was looking into employees and the witness “to the alleged crimes that failed to report this activity for some time.”

 

Earlier in the week, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health reported that it was working with law enforcement...

 

more

https://www.jconline.com/story/news/2019/06/07/fair-oaks-farms-abuse-skeptics-circle-arm-delivers-more-undercover-video/1384422001/

 

 

Retailers pull Fairlife products as authorities investigate alleged animal abuse at famous farm

 

Hawaii News Now

June 7, 2019

 

FAIR OAKS, Ind. (AP/CNN) — Retailers began pulling Fairlife products from their shelves Wednesday as police investigated alleged animal abuse after an animal rights group released graphic video showing workers kicking and throwing young calves at an Indiana dairy farm that’s a popular destination for school field trips.

 

Animal Recovery Mission said that an investigator for the Miami-based animal rights group secretly recorded the disturbing footage last year while working for several months at Fair Oaks Farms, which Food & Wine magazine has called the “Disneyland of agricultural tourism.”

 

The group said that the footage shows the "daily mistreatment of the resident farm animals" at the farm's dairies about 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of Chicago.

 

"Due to the many years Fair Oaks Farms has been in business, it is impossible to number the amount of calves and cows that have inhumanely died at the hands of this company," said Rachel Taylor, a spokeswoman for Animal Recovery Mission.

 

Fair Oaks Farms is the flagship farm for Fairlife, a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium and lower fat milk. At least three retailers — Strack & Van Til, Jewel-Osco and Family Express — began pulling Fairlife products from their shelves Wednesday in response to the video, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .

 

Valparaiso, Indiana-based Family Express operates convenience stores across Indiana. The company said in a statement that it's pulling Fairlife products, saying "the exposé of animal abuse in the Fair Oaks Farm network is chilling."

 

The video shows newborn calves being thrown in and out of their huts by employees, young calves being kicked in the head and the carcasses of dead calves piled together in the dirt. The footage additionally shows employees striking calves with their hands and steel rods and being burnt with branding irons.

 

Fair Oaks Farms founder Mike McCloskey said in a statement Tuesday that four employees seen in the video have been fired and actions have been taken to prevent further abuse. A fifth person shown in the video was a third-party truck driver who was transporting calves, he said.

 

"As a veterinarian whose life and work is dedicated to the care, comfort and safety of all animals, this has affected me deeply," McCloskey said. "I am disappointed for not being aware of this kind of awful treatment occurring, and I take full responsibility for what has happened. I also take full responsibility to correct and ensure that every employee understands, embraces and practices the core values on which our organization stands."

 

A portion of the video also showed what appeared to be an employee using cocaine in a work vehicle on site, while other footage showed what appeared to be marijuana plants being grown on the property.

 

McCloskey described the plants in his statement as an invasive perennial species.

 

The Newton County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Wednesday that it's requested the names of the now-fired workers and the person who shot the footage. The agency said it would work with the county prosecutor's office to determine if any criminal charges will be filed.

 

“We acknowledge the need for humane treatment of animals and the need to hold individuals that have gone beyond an acceptable farm management practice accountable for their actions,” the department said in its statement.

 

However, this is not the first time the farm has apologized for how animals are treated at the farm...

 

more, including video

https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/06/07/retailers-pull-fairlife-products-authorities-investigate-alleged-animal-abuse-famous-farm/

 

 

It's vigilante activist vs. politically connected farmer in Fair Oaks cruelty controversy

 

Tony Cook, Sarah Bowman and Tim Evans, Indianapolis Star (IN)

June 7, 2019

 

An animal welfare controversy that has garnered national attention pits a gun-toting activist — once described as a “Yuppie Rambo” — against an Indiana farmer so well connected he met with President Donald Trump at the White House in September and was mentioned in the governor’s State of the State Address.

 

One man is on a crusade to fight animal cruelty by infiltrating farms and slaughterhouses with hidden cameras.

 

The other is a pioneer of agricultural tourism designed in part to combat the bad press of large-scale farming operations that now produce much of the country’s food.

 

The controversy was sparked by a video that depicted workers abusing calves at Fair Oaks Farms, a Northern Indiana dairy farm and tourism attraction that has been called the Disneyland of agriculture. It is expected to play out not only in the legal system, but also in the court of public opinion.

 

The shocking video, released earlier this week, showed farmhands stomping on calves' heads, body slamming them and striking them with metal rods. The footage was recorded by an undercover activist who was hired at the farm.

 

Reaction has been swift. The release has generated strong emotional outcry on social media, spurred an investigation by the Newton County sheriff's office, and prompted some stores to stop selling one of the farm's best known products.

 

Fair Oaks' owner has acknowledged the abuse and fired the workers involved. He has also pledged to install security monitors to prevent future abuse.

 

The men behind the controversy appear about as different as two men can be.

 

But they also have much in common: They're highly regarded in their respective fields, have a knack for publicity, and both say they're driven by a love for animals.

 

The Batman of animal cruelty ...

 

more, including links

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2019/06/07/fair-oaks-farms-abuse-vigilante-activist-vs-politically-connected-farmer/1365849001/

 

 

Falling from grace on animal welfare: What have we learned?

The lesson for animal agriculture and the American public alike is that events like this can happen anywhere.

 

Dr. Candace Croney, Feedstuffs 

Jun 07, 2019

 

“Can you comment on the animal abuse scandal coming out of Fair Oaks?” As news unfolded of an undercover video made at one of the highest profile agritourism sites in the Midwest, multiple versions of this request began to pop up in my email and phone messages. I’m honestly not sure what to say or if it’s even wise to comment. I have an informal working relationship with Fair Oaks Farms personnel, although it primarily pertains to the Pig Adventure. I have collaborated on research focused on public perceptions of agriculture and welfare with Fair Oaks. We have shared insights and resources relating to our mutual commitment to animal welfare. I am truly conflicted. And, yet, something needs to be said and in my current position, I have an obligation to say it. So, here’s my candid response: I am as shocked, sickened, and saddened as everyone else. I am angry that people can and do betray our trust in them as caretakers and more importantly, that animals, who have no say in what happens to them, suffer for it. Debates about the ethics of raising animals for food aside, I don’t understand how anyone can choose to abuse animals, especially babies. I hate that the public’s trust in animal agriculture is once again broken and that our collective efforts to support and improve animal welfare on farms have now been undermined. What can we do besides try to make sense of how something like this can happen at a venue that serves as a model farm?

 

Here is a lesson for animal agriculture and the American public alike—events like this can happen anywhere. What is most important is the response to them. The reaction from Fair Oaks Farms is a strong start. They have owned the problem, admitted mistakes, addressed the personnel known (at this point) to be involved, and laid out a plan to improve. Supporting their efforts to right the wrong that was done is more important than resorting to blaming and shaming or to simply feeling powerless to prevent animal mistreatment. For the sake of animal welfare, it is crucial that we focus now on understanding why Fair Oaks might have encountered the nightmarish problems with which they are dealing and think about where we all go from here.

 

The first challenge that every farm owner and manager faces today is finding employees who will be good animal caregivers and stewards of the farm. The work is taxing. It must be done even under the most arduous weather and temperature challenges and not many people want to do it. Farm managers can pay decent wages, set the tone for farm culture, educate their staff about animal care and welfare, and still see all of that investment compromised if animal caretakers do not adhere to the best practices they are taught.

 

This is not just a Fair Oaks problem. Employees who do the wrong thing can be found in every area of business. On farms, a major limitation beyond the limited pool of potential caregivers is being able to screen prospective staff effectively and ethically to minimize risks to animals and people. We need to find ways to assess potential employees’ attitudes to animals as we know that beliefs and attitudes dictate and reinforce behaviors towards animals.

 

Paul Hemsworth and Grahame Coleman’s wonderful body of work has illustrated these relationships with livestock and poultry for decades. It is not enough to train people to a standard—they need to internalize animal welfare as a core value or behavior will break down over time or under pressure. Understanding of experiential and cultural differences in knowledge and attitudes towards animals must also be better incorporated into the development and delivery of training programs. Failure to address these factors may erode the quality of learning outcomes that in turn result in failure to fully or consistently comply with training.

 

Science reveals that video surveillance of employees can and often does help to ensure compliance with best practices, but only if there is analysis of the videos and rapid feedback to staff. Not doing the latter negates the benefits of the investment as people tend to habituate to the presence of cameras and revert back to problematic behaviors.

 

The “see something, say something” approach to having animal caretakers hold each other accountable for their actions, as advocated by the National Dairy FARM program and Fair Oaks Farms, can also be helpful...

 

more

https://www.feedstuffs.com/commentary/falling-grace-animal-welfare-what-have-we-learned