A Florida farm owner, who said he was unaware of animal abuse on his farm, is now under fire after a group claims that video shows he knew about it.
A press conference was held on Dec. 13 by Animal Recovery Mission, a Miami-based animal rights group, showing additional footage from Larson Dairy Farm in Okeechobee Co. The group says the video shows dairy owner Jacob Larson was allegedly present when animal abuse was occurring.
The group says the video shows Larson was present and participating on at least one occasion. Larson, ARM claims, witnessed employees using excessive force to move cows into and out of their milking stalls. ARM says video released Wednesday, and provided to the Okeechobee Sheriff’s Office in November shows Larson restraining a cow while a worker is hitting the animal in the head.
“He saw and knew of the abuse,” said Animal Recovery Mission founder and investigator Richard ‘Kudo’ Couto. “Real violent stuff. They are rebarring the animals. Snapping and fracturing tails. Punching and kicking. And none of this was hidden.”
“Rebarring” refers to the use of rebar in the dairy parlor to move cattle.
Larson had previously denied knowing the abuse was happening.
Following the release of the video back in November, Larson had said that when he became aware of the video, he fired one employee and suspended two others.
“If cows aren’t cool, clean and comfortable, they’re not producing quality milk. So we gotta take excellent care,” said owner Jacob Larson back on Nov. 9th. “We have numerous heard health protocols with our veterinarian staff to help us with the training of these technicians.”
He also said he owns 2,000 cows and cares about their well-being.
While Larson has denied knowing of the abuse captured by ARM, the group’s founder, Richard Couto, says Larson worked on the farm every day, had an office in the milking barn, and would have had to have seen the abuse that occurred on a “constant” basis every day.
Following the video release, Larson Dairy Farms was placed on probation by National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and Southeast Milk, Inc. for violation of FARM policy. Four former employees were wanted for arrest stemming from the abuse and only one is currently in custody. Investigators believe the other three have more than likely left the country to avoid prosecution.
Southeast Milk says that comprehensive and independent third-party audits have been conducted for Larson Dairy Farms. The cooperative began mandatory animal welfare training sessions for members on Dec. 11 prior to the latest videos release.
Burnham Dairy Farm was the second farm in Okeechobee Co. to be targeted by Animal Recovery Mission and is under a similar probation.
Now, a third dairy in Okeechobee Co. has been accused of animal abuse following an undercover video investigation by Animal Recovery Mission. On Dec. 14, the animal rights group released a video alleging abuse at McArthur Farms. In the video employees are seen hitting and stabbing cows with PVC pipe. While flame clipping udders there is footage of the flame being directed at cows’ faces. Handling of downer cows and calves is also highlighted with use of excessive force noted with both groups. Other practices like ear tagging, artificial insemination and tubbing are mischaracterized by the group as being “violent” and “painful.” This is the second undercover video investigation at McArthur Farms, following videos shot by the Humane Society of the U.S. in 1999.