This week, animal-rights group Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) released horrific footage of its three-month undercover investigation of Indiana-based Fair Oaks Farms—one of the largest dairy farms in the United States and a producer of the milk company Fairlife Corporation distributed by the The Coca-Cola Company. “Employees were observed slapping, kicking, punching, pushing, throwing, and slamming calves,” ARM described its findings on social media. “Calves were stabbed and beaten with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, kneed in the spine, burned in the face with hot branding irons, subjected to extreme temperatures, provided with improper nutrition, and denied medical attention. This resulted in extreme pain and suffering by the calves, and in some cases permanent injury and even death.” ARM’s investigation also confirmed that Fair Oaks sends male calves to slaughter for veal, a practice the company previously denied. “The calf abuse is by far the worst baby abuse that we’ve ever seen undercover, in any investigation, anywhere in the world,” ARM founder Richard Couto said. “Nothing is worse than Fair Oaks Farms.”
Four out of the five individuals depicted in ARM’s footage have been terminated by Fair Oaks, and the fifth—a contracted truck driver—has been asked to never return to the farm. “I am disgusted by and take full responsibility for the actions seen in the footage, as it goes against everything that we stand for in regards to responsible cow care and comfort,” Fair Oaks co-owner Mike McCloskey said in a statement. “The employees featured in the video exercised a complete and total disregard for the documented training that all employees go through to ensure the comfort, safety, and well-being of our animals. It is a shock and an eye-opener for us to discover that under our watch, we had employees who showed disregard for our animals, our processes, and for the rule of law. This ARM video shines a light on an area that—despite our thorough training, employee on-boarding procedures, and overall commitment to animal welfare—needs improvement.”
In its investigation, ARM revealed that employee training at Fair Oaks was nearly non-existent. “The only training our investigator was trained on at Fair Oaks Farms was, ‘Make sure you take the back road when you have dead calves in your transport,’” Couto said. “The difference between Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure (a public tour hosted by the farm) and the reality of the dairy industry is night and day,” Couto said. “Everything is a lie.” Couto advised that the only way to stop the systemic abuse at Fair Oaks is to shut down the farm entirely and urged Coca-Cola to cut ties with Fair Oaks, and the dairy industry as a whole, immediately.