For the second time in the past week a dairy in Florida is being accused of abusing cattle on their farm.
Animal Recovery Mission, an animal rights group based in Florida, released an undercover video on Nov. 15 shot at Burnham Dairy Farm near Okeechobee. In the nearly 10 minute video there is footage of dead animals and cows in flooded holding pens.
Industry groups like the Florida Dairy Farmers have pointed out the video was filmed during times of “unusually high rainfall and extreme weather conditions.”
The video does inaccurately depict dairy farm practices like tube feeding and artificial insemination as “calves being violently force fed” and “cows are raped.” At the end of the video the narrator tells viewers to “say no to all dairy products and choose a plant based diet.”
Southeast Milk, Inc., the cooperative that receives milk from Burnham Dairy Farm, alerted the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and its National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Program of the video.
In a written statement Jim Sleper, CEO of Southeast Milk says, “Animal abuse of any kind is never tolerated at SMI. While some of the conditions depicted at Burnham Dairy reflect our farming community’s struggle to deal with the aftermath of the historic Hurricane Irma, others clearly show a breakdown in the adherence to our SMI protocols, as well as our broader dairy community standards.”
Emily Meredith, chief of staff for NMPF, shared in a written statement that Southeast Milk participates in the FARM Program and the organizations are gathering evidence to review. Thus far the only reports or evidence of abuse have come from Animal Recovery Mission.
“The FARM Program, following activation of its official protocol on Willful Mistreatment, launched a thorough investigation, including mandating that a third-party audit be conducted on the farm,” Meredith says.
Burnham Dairy Farm has been placed on probationary status by NMPF and will undergo a third party audit.
A statement from Florida Dairy Farmers says, “While authorities review the video and conduct investigations, we can only say that the disturbing images in this video do not reflect the typical conditions on dairy farms. The entire dairy industry is committed to animal well-being and proactively continues to put in place multiple initiatives reinforcing this commitment.”
Publix, one of the largest supermarkets in the U.S., shared on social media with concerned consumers that the company was made aware of the video on Nov. 10 and “made an immediate decision to suspend receiving raw milk from Burnham Farms.”
Good Morning, Kathleen. We learned late last week that an undercover video was recorded at Burnham Farms depicting deplorable conditions and animal abuse. As of November 10, Publix made an immediate decision to suspend receiving raw milk from Burnham Farms. Publix is... 1/2— Publix (@Publix) November 17, 2017
...committed to animal welfare and we expect our suppliers to uphold the same standards. ϞJJ 2/2— Publix (@Publix) November 17, 2017
Last week on Nov. 9, allegations of abuse were made against Larson Dairy Farm, also from Okeechobee, after Animal Recovery Mission released an undercover video.
On Nov. 16, warrants were issued for the arrests of workers involved in the Larson Dairy Farm case. There were no numbers released by the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office for the number of current or former employees accused of abuse.