A Guilford Township dairy farm is facing animal cruelty allegations after a video was released late last week depicting the alleged abuse of its cows and calves.
The footage, provided by an undercover investigator for the animal activist group Compassion Over Killing, showed several gruesome scenes, including workers tying down cows and using a hot iron to burn their skulls, spraying them in their faces with hot water and fatally shooting them in the head. The group also noted its investigator followed a truck from the farm to a Nestlé ice cream facility, which owns Dreyer’s, Edy’s, and Häagen-Dazs brands.
As the Public Opinion previously reported, Pennsylvania State Police said in a release Thursday officers and the state police animal cruelty liaison were investigating these claims, which occurred between Oct. 17, 2018 and Dec. 7, 2018.
Spokeswoman Trooper Megan Frazer said that, as of Monday morning, there were no updates available on the investigation of the Chambersburg-area farm. The release stated staffers at the business have been fully cooperative.
In addition, several other organizations have responded to the accusations against Martin Farms.
Compassion Over Killing said on its website when Nestlé was alerted to the abuse, it immediately cut ties with the dairy farm. However, the group noted this small step “fails to address the systemic nature of the issues COK’s investigation uncovered.”
The farm is also undergoing a Farmers Assuring Responsible Management’s (FARM) animal care audit, which was initiated by the Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, of which Martin Farms is a member. In an online statement, the organization said it initiated this step after the farm notified it of the alleged animal abuse.
“(The cooperative) takes all claims about animal mistreatment very seriously, and we assert that any evidence of animal abuse should be immediately reported and investigated,” it continued. “Neither Maryland and Virginia, the dairy industry or our individual farmer owners tolerate animal abuse of any kind.”
The audit has already identified “several areas in need of immediate improvement,” and the farm has been placed on probation and will need to meet the requirements outlined in the FARM’s Mandatory Corrective Action Plan and Continuous Improvement Plans, the cooperative said. Members farms are required to follow the guidelines set forth by the FARM program and those that fail to comply with these standards and the probation process could have their membership terminated.
Upon being alerted to the footage captured at their business, Martin Farms said in its own statement that it is “appalled that these incidents took place on our farm.”
“We take full responsibility for the activities on our dairy,” the company added. “We are disappointed that these actions were not immediately brought to our attention.”
Martin Farms also said all employees shown in the video mishandling the animals have been terminated, and it has taken immediate steps to address “management issues,” as well as other improvement areas outlined in the FARM audit.
“We believe in continuous improvement, and we are revising our existing monitoring and employee training protocols to determine where changes need to be made to prevent future incidents from occurring,” the company continued.
To view the complete footage posted online by Compassion Over Killing, visit its website at cok.net/inv/martinfarms.