Mercy for Animals (MFA) recently released a video depicting animal cruelty at Cactus-Acres Holsteins, Fort Morgan, Colo.
The video was recorded by Jessica Buck, who was hired by the dairy to work as a milker. In reality, Buck was an undercover agent for MFA.
When contacted by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, Jim and Marie Goedert, owners of the dairy, took immediate action to discipline offending employees. Several of the employees had already been terminated for ill-treating animals. The Goederts are cooperating with law enforcement and fully intend to press charges against some of the individuals.
While the Goedert’s take full responsibility for actions that occurred on their facility, they are disappointed Buck did not come forward with complaints rather than record continued abuse for two months. Statements by the Goederts and Dairy Farmers of America follow:
Statement from Jim and Marie Goedert: Recently, we learned of a video depicting animal abuse perpetrated by employees on our dairy. We are appalled that these incidents took place here, and have taken disciplinary action against all of the employees involved, including several prior to our knowledge of the video as part of our normal dairy management.
We take great pride in our family farm and in the care we provide to our animals. We will not tolerate any mistreatment. We are reviewing our existing monitoring and employee training protocols to determine where changes need to be made to prevent future incidents from occurring.
When we hired Jessica Buck as a milker at Cactus-Acres Holsteins, we trusted her, and all employees we hire, to do the right things and to follow our protocols and values. We now know that Ms. Buck was an undercover agent for Mercy For Animals. While we take full responsibility for the activities on our dairy, we find ourselves saddened that these actions were not immediately brought to our attention.
Dairy Farmers of America Statement, Monica Massey, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs:
Animal abuse in the dairy industry is not tolerated. That’s why, when Dairy Farmers of America members Jim and Marie Goedert of Cactus-Acres Holsteins in Fort Morgan, Colo., were notified of employees mistreating animals at their operation, they took immediate action.
Officials from the Morgan County, Colo., Sheriff’s Office recently contacted the Goederts to discuss a video they received from a former employee of the dairy, who turned out to be an undercover agent from the animal rights extremist group Mercy For Animals. Over a two-month period, this individual recorded incidents of abuse.
When the Goederts viewed the video, they immediately disciplined the employees involved. Many had already been terminated due to concerns about animal mistreatment. The family also is fully cooperating with authorities and intends to press charges against the people mistreating their animals. It is disheartening that groups like Mercy For Animals, which claim to have animal care and wellness at heart, seek change through deceit and misconception, rather than working with the industry to proactively address their concerns.
When animal abuse is witnessed, it should be immediately reported, not recorded. On dairy farms throughout the country, animal care is the number one priority. On Cactus-Acres Holsteins, when the instance of abuse or mistreatment was brought to light, consequences were swift, and policies and procedures immediately were put into place to prevent further instances.
DFA works with several industry organizations to continuously improve standards and best practices to ensure the nation’s dairy herd is well taken care of. We were the first in the industry to develop an on-farm evaluation program in 2007 called the Gold Standard Dairy Program. The program incorporates industry best practices, resources for producers and extensive training for field staff in the areas of animal care and wellness, environmental responsibility, employee training and milk safety and quality. As its animal care component, the Gold Standard Dairy Program utilizes the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program. FARM establishes industry guidelines for animal care best practices and utilizes second-party on-farm evaluations and third-party verification to ensure the integrity of the program. The dairy industry has a history of dedication to the care and wellness of animals, and family farms throughout the country are committed to their herds — from one cow to 10,000.