ARM investigators say video shows inhumane treatment at McArthur Farms
By Peter Burke – Local10.com Managing Editor , Todd Tongen – Anchor/Reporter
Posted: 11:19 AM, December 14, 2017
Updated: 11:17 PM, December 14, 2017
DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – The Animal Recovery Mission released new surveillance video Thursday showing more cows being abused on a Florida dairy farm that sells its milk to McArthur Dairy.
The video resulted in the arrests of three men who work at the farm, Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen said.
Stephen said more arrests are pending.
ARM investigators said the undercover video shows workers at McArthur Farms in Okeechobee spearing the cows and using blowtorches to sear hairs off the cows.
Investigators said the video also shows inhumane procedures being used for birthing cows, claiming that they aren’t given the chance to fully dilate before their calves are removed during labor, and the newborns are quickly separated from their mothers.
“The mothers (are) having their babies automatically ripped from them the second they are born. (They) are being electrocuted by cattle prods prematurely to get their calves out of their bodies,” ARM lead investigator Richard Couto said at a news conference Thursday morning.
The video also shows dead calves littering the property.
McArthur Farms is a member of Southeast Milk Inc., Florida’s largest dairy cooperative that provides milk to McArthur Dairy and other suppliers.
“Dean Foods is appalled at the behaviors shown in the released video,” Reace Smith, spokesman for Dean Foods, which owns the McArthur Dairy brand but not the farm where the alleged abuse occurred, said in a statement. “We believe that providing for the health and welfare of dairy cows is the right thing to do and we expect all farmers to ensure their animals are being cared for and handled according to sound animal welfare principles. Between the video being taken and released, we recognize that SMI took ownership of the problem and is taking proactive steps with all their members to address animal welfare on the farms.”
Smith called the name of the farm “coincidental.”
“I think that’s a ridiculous statement — coincidental — when they have the same exact logo — the same exact logo, there is no difference — between the logo on their product, again, McArthur Dairy — the same logo, the same logo that is outside every single location at the McArthur Dairy,” Couto said.
The video is just the latest to highlight abuse at Okeechobee farms, including Larson Dairy Farm and Burnham Dairy Farm.
ARM investigators claim that the abuse at McArthur Farms has been going on for years, dating back to a 1999 undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States. No criminal charges were ever filed, however.
This time, though, ARM is demanding that McArthur Farms be held accountable for the actions of its employees.
WARNING: Video shows graphic footage that some may find disturbing