Reaction to Animal Abuse
Last week, someone forwarded to me a sickening video of animal abuse recently posted by Mercy for Animals on its Web site.
If you haven’t seen the video, let me summarize it for you: it shows a dairy farm employee in Ohio abusing both calves and cows, stabbing them with pitchforks in the face, hitting them with pipes, and throwing calves down on their backs, and kicking them in the head.
I must confess: I could not watch the entire video. I cringed through the first part, and finally had to close the file. It was too upsetting to watch it any further.
I don’t support this kind of treatment of animals. No one in the dairy industry supports it. No one in any industry — agriculture or otherwise — supports it.
Law enforcement doesn’t support it. The employee shown in the video was subsequently arrested and charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals — after the dairy fired him.
In the dairy industry, the health and proper care of the animals is of the utmost importance to farmers, both from a business perspective, and from a moral one.
As the chief executive officer of MidAtlantic Farm Credit, a major agricultural lender, I’ve visited many dairy farms over the years. Dairy accounts for 11 percent of our portfolio. It is an important industry to us.
We have two dairy farmers on our board of directors. I’ve been to both of their farms, as well as their neighbor’s farms, and their neighbors’ neighbors farms. These farms differ in size; they differ in the number of employees. Their barns look different, and they use different equipment.
One thing is the same on all of these well-run farms. Making sure that the cows have nutritious feed and fresh water, appropriate housing and veterinary care, and — ALWAYS — fair and humane treatment is expected and required. Anything less is not tolerated.
It bothers me that video footage of bad actions, and cruel people, is the dominant picture that many people see, rather than images of the good farmers who make their livelihood by producing milk.
June just happens to be Dairy Month, and I will hopefully be able to visit with some of the wonderful dairy farmers in our area. When I go, I might just borrow my daughter’s flip camera, and see if I can figure out how to take a video of my own.