One of the largest dairy farms in the U.S. is under fire as leaked footage shows graphic animal abuse by farm workers at Fair Oaks. The farm and popular agriculture tour site was infiltrated by activists who were hired as workers and recorded the brutal treatment of calves.
Founder and owner Mike McCloskey has pledged to fire remaining workers, improve animal welfare training and allow live streaming of the calves in the “Adventure” area, where about 500,000 annual visitors and school groups tour the farm every year.
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Despite his promises, Fair Oaks has received considerable attention and backlash, including calls for boycotts and removal from shelves in Chicago and Indiana. However, it remains to be seen how much the massive corporation will clean up its act, and how many consumers will remember to spend their dollars elsewhere.
According to McCloskey, the problem was bad employees who did not follow the animal welfare training guidelines. In a video statement, he said, “That was a terrible judgment on my part. The way I have to look at this is that as hard as we try, you can always end up with bad people within your organization, and this is what happened to us.”
The video depicts workers kicking, punching and burning calves as they stuffed them into trucks or piled their dead bodies just out of sight of school field trips.
“The difference between the Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure and the reality of the dairy industry is night and day,” said Richard Couto, the founder of Animal Recovery Mission. “Everything is a lie.”
The local police department is currently investigating the cases of animal abuse, and Fair Oaks’ founder has promised to increase video surveillance and hire a private auditor to make unannounced visits. While many are calling for a boycott of Fair Oaks and its associated Fairlife brand, some lawmakers and agriculture industry advocates argue that this was an isolated incident and that the boycott will cause people to lose jobs.
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