DISPATCHES FROM ZENITH GLOBAL DAIRY CONGRESS 2015

Mercy for Animals undercover animal cruelty video 'contrived': DFA

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Mercy for Animals video begins with a shot of a worker at a DFA member farm jabbing a cow with a screwdriver.
The Mercy for Animals video begins with a shot of a worker at a DFA member farm jabbing a cow with a screwdriver.

Related tags: Global dairy congress, Cattle

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has taken a further swipe at Mercy for Animals, branding a recent undercover investigation by the organization "contrived."

Speaking at the Zenith International Global Dairy Congress in Amsterdam last month, Rick Smith, president and CEO, DFA, touched on the recent Mercy for Animals investigation at a DFA member farm in Colorado.

Undercover footage of animal cruelty at Cactus Acres Holsteins in Fort Morgan emerged last month.

The video, shot over a two month period at the Colorado farm by undercover Mercy for Animals activist, Jessica Buck, showed some farm employees mistreating cattle.

In a statement, DFA, which is owned by around 15,000 dairy farmers across the US, said that while animal cruelty is “not tolerated”​ in the US dairy sector, incidents like this should be “immediately reported, not recorded.”

Delivering a keynote address at the Global Dairy Congress last week, Smith called the video "contrived."

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Rick Smith, president and CEO, DFA, on stage on the Global Dairy Congress (Image: Twitter)

"They sent their video the local sheriff, who they hoped would arrest the farmers,"​ he said. "But the sheriff wanted to arrest those people in the video."

"We're under a lot of stress because of these vegan groups,"​ he added.

"All hell breaks loose"

The MFA video, which DFA posted on YouTube, begins with shots of a Cactus Acres Holsteins employees jabbing one cow with a screwdriver and hitting another with a stick.

Other employees are seen slapping, punching and kicking cows. 

DFA isn't the first major North American dairy to face scrutiny following an undercover Mercy for Animals investigation.

In June 2014, Canadian dairy Saputo refused to accept milk from Chilliwack Cattle Company in British Colombia for several days after video evidence emerged of "sadistic animal abuse"​ at the farm.

Undercover footage showed workers at Chilliwack Cattle Company "kicking, punching, beating and hitting cows in the face and body with chains, canes, metal pipes and rakes."

On June 1, in response to the Mercy for Animals investigation, Saputo unveiled a new animal welfare policy that includes a "zero tolerance"​ approach to acts of animal cruelty.

"What they've done in the last three years is send what they call an investigator to a large farm. They have their investigator get hired, the next thing that happens is an undercover video is produced. They release it and all hell breaks loose,"​ Smith continued.

"These organizations have a different agenda."

Related topics: Prepared Foods, Manufacturers

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