An Indiana dairy farm is under investigation and stores are pulling its products from their shelves after undercover footage caught workers force-feeding, beating and kicking calves.
Graphic footage made public Tuesday by the Animal Recovery Mission, which brands itself as a nonprofit “vanguard defense organization,” shows workers at Fair Oaks Farms dragging the animals by their ears, stomping on their heads and chucking them into crates. The video also shows what the narrator describes as a secret dump site, where there are dead calves.
The farm hired an undercover investigator from ARM as a calf care employee, according to an ARM press release. The employee filmed the footage with surveillance equipment between August and November 2018.
Local law enforcement is investigating the farm in the wake of the video’s release, CBS News reported.
In a response Wednesday, Fair Oaks Farms owner Mike McCloskey, who founded the business with wife, Sue, apologized and said three of the four workers shown in the video “had been reported by their coworkers for animal cruelty and were terminated three months ago before we ever knew that there was an undercover video operation.”
McCloskey said that the fourth employee’s behavior had gone unreported, but he was fired Tuesday afternoon.
According to McCloskey, the farm’s staff are trained in animal welfare and sign a document vowing to report any abuse they witness to a supervisor. Outlining the company’s next steps, McCloskey said he plans to install surveillance cameras around the farm. He initially decided against it, he said, citing concerns over jeopardizing trust with his employees.
Fair Oaks will also arrange “frequent unannounced audits” every two to four weeks and intends to hire an animal welfare expert to monitor the farm.
McCloskey also warned that he is in contact with an attorney to prosecute animal abusers, and hopes to reach the state’s attorney general for further assistance.
But the matter has already resulted in consequences for the Fairlife dairy brand, which the farm supplies. McCloskey founded Fairlife, and its products are distributed nationwide through the Coca-Cola Company.
Outrage over the abuses has prompted grocers in the Midwest to pull Fairlife items from their shelves, NBC News reported.
At the end of McCloskey’s statement, he said there may more damaging footage yet to come.
“We understand that ARM may release future videos, but we believe very strongly that all of these changes will address any future concerns,” he said.