We are continuing to follow the controversy surrounding the country's largest dairy. Fair Oaks Farm in Northern Indiana is also a tourist attraction. At least three retailers are pulling Fairlife products, which are distributed by Coca-Cola. Fair Oaks is the flagship farm for Fairlife. Fairlife is a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium, and lower fat milk.
It comes after an animal rights group released a video. It shows workers kicking and throwing young calves. Now, the owner of Fair Oaks is speaking out on camera. Mike McCloskey posted a video on the farm's Facebook page. McCloskey said, "I am focusing on putting cameras anywhere on the property where we have any animal and personal interaction. You would ask yourself 'why didn't I do that initially?' Years ago when we set up our animal welfare program this was a big topic of discussion and I made the decision that as we were training our people and our values and training them about animal welfare, that I wanted to build a trust, that we trusted them to do this that we could drive our values and have them carry those values out for us, and I felt that if we used cameras we demonstrated a lack of trust in our people. That was a terrible judgment on my part."
McCloskey says he will be adding an exhibit that will allow the public to see the video screens that show all the cameras. He says he also contacted an animal welfare organization to make frequent and unannounced visits at the farm. He says he also reached out to the county attorney to review the video and prosecute any animal abusers.
UPDATE: The Newton County Sheriff's Office says it has requested the names of the now-fired workers in the video, and the person who shot the footage. Officials said they would be working with the county prosecutor's office to determine if any criminal charges will be filed. We're also hearing from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. It says it is aware of the video and that no representative from the animal rights group contacted them to report concerns or share their video. Officials there say they reviewed their compliance records and complaint logs for Fair Oaks and say there are no reports of animal abuse or neglect that have been filed with the agency.
Coca-Cola, which distributes Fairlife issued a statement. It said, "we fully support and respect the proactive approach that Fairlife and Fair Oaks Farm have taken and we continue to stay in contact with them to lend any support they need."
You can watch Fair Oaks Farm Owner Mike McCloskey's on-camera statement here or below: