Gary Conklin of Conklin Dairy Farms, the farm featured in recent footage shot by the animal-rights activist group Mercy for Animals, recently sat down with the Buckeye Ag Radio Network after being cleared of any allegations.
In the interview, Conklin talks about the video, its impact on their business and family, and how Billy Joe Gregg, Jr. came to be employed at Conklin Dairy Farm.
The incidence, Conklin says, has devastated his family. Threats have been made to his family personally and to his business; a business which has been in the Conklin family since 1919.
Billy Joe Gregg, Jr. came to the Conklin farm last November and according to his resume, he had a lot of dairy experience and was an Iraqi war veteran who was honorably discharged, says Conklin. "He looked OK on his resume."
Conklin says that any future employees will be vetted extensively in a number of areas. "Our hiring process will be a lot more extensive than it was previously."
The undercover videographer, Jason Smith, started work at the Conklin farm in late April. "He lived in the area, needed work and it just so happened at the time we had some fences to build and buildings and pens to clean out," says Conklin. "I hired him and told him we will give him a trial it may be three days or three months. For the work we had to do we thought he would fit the bill." Smith also came with dairy experience on his resume.
"He certainly didn't put on his resume that he had worked undercover in approximately 10 other locations," notes Conklin. "He didn't allude to working on any other farms other than his uncle's farm in Texas."
Conklin says that Gregg and Smith were at the farm in the afternoons unsupervised together and he suspects that's when they did the videotaping.
"We're reevaluating our management systems and looking at how we can change things so it can't happen again," says Conklin.
Conklin advises other farmers to vet any new employees extensively. "Have a policy in place for existing employees that addresses any animal abuse that makes it mandatory that employees report anything inappropriate to management immediately so it can be stopped and addressed immediately."
According to Conklin Smith admitted under oath that he was talking daily to Mercy for Animals. "He new there was abuse going on, he had the opportunity to come to me or any other law enforcement officers, the local human society and they made the decision to stay and get more tape. Which brings forth the question is this about the animals and the care of the animals or is this about making this as salacious as they can in light of the ballot initiative and the signatures they needed to get for the November ballot. Meanwhile our animals were being mistreated by an employee. An animal activist was silent to all the authorities and myself to stop it."
For more information read: Farm owner cleared in abuse case
Source: ABN Radio &; the Buckeye Ag Radio Network