Jim Dickrell is the editor of Dairy Today and is based in Monticello, Minn.
Lessons from (Another) Dairy Abuse Video
Dec 14, 2013
The report on ABC News last week on another animal abuse case on a large dairy, this time in Wisconsin, offers harsh lessons for everyone. You can view the report here
The videos are difficult to watch, particularly for a consuming public whose only notion of a dairy farm is Elsie the Cow.
The really sad part is that the Wiese farm, like other farms exposed before, is a good farm that is trying to do the right thing. By their own account, the Wieses did almost all the right things. In a statement they released last week, they said:
"We are cooperating fully with the local law enforcement.
"Two employees have been terminated. A third employee has been removed from animal handling responsibilities. Further action will be taken if the investigation warrants it. Additionally, three employees have been identified as specialists who will supervise the care and handling of any cow unable to get up without assistance.
"Within 24 hours after learning about the video, an independent animal care auditor from a national evaluation firm conducted a thorough review of our farm’s written protocols for animal handling and observed farm employees and the condition of our animals. While they noted a few areas for improvement, their overall analysis indicated our animals are clean, well-cared for and treated appropriately by employees.
"Beginning in early 2012, each of our employees reviewed and signed an animal treatment commitment pledge as part of the hiring process and condition of employment. We have updated that commitment and shared it with the employees who work in the special needs hospital area.
"Employees will be shadowed by their supervisor periodically, and without notice, to ensure protocols in place are being met or exceeded."
But, if the videos are to be believed,
there were slip-ups. The most obvious was a failure to ensure animal-care protocols were followed religiously and without exception. (More on national dairy care standards can be found here
.) That’s easy to say and criticize in hindsight, but it’s a hard lesson no one in the industry should ever forget. Never assume this can’t happen on your farm.
Second, if someone shows up at your dairy with a resume that’s too good be true, it is. The Mercy for Animals under-cover activist who applied for the job came with a long list of experience and references. Upon further review, little of it was true.
Third, Mercy for Animals claims to be an animal welfare organization, much like the Humane Society of the United States, PETA and other such groups. But their claims to be animal welfare advocates fall flat on their face when they wait weeks, even months, to report cases of abuse. Their main motivation is to gain maximum media exposure. History has proven these groups are vegan organizations out to raise funds for themselves and to destroy animal agriculture.
Learn these lessons well.