Consumers threaten dairy boycott after abuse at B.C. dairy farm caught on video
Published Saturday, June 14, 2014 10:00PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 14, 2014 11:22PM EDT
Calls are growing for dairy companies to take action -- or face consumer boycotts -- after hidden-camera video footage revealed vicious abuse of cows at a B.C. dairy farm.
Earlier this week, Mercy for Animals Canada released shocking video of workers kicking and beating dairy cows at Chilliwack Cattle Company. The advocacy group then launched a petition on Change.org calling on dairy companies to stand up against the farm.
As of Saturday afternoon, more than 92,000 people had signed the petition, which urges Saputo Dairy Foods, a company which purchases milk from the farm, to implement a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse. Saputo is one of Canada’s largest dairy producers.
“Please join Mercy for Animals Canada in calling on Saputo to immediately implement meaningful animal protection guidelines for all dairy suppliers, including zero tolerance for animal abuse, care for ‘downers,’ and video monitoring systems,” the petition says.
Shortly after the video’s release, Chilliwack Cattle announced it had fired eight employees the farm said were involved in the abuse, which was secretly recorded in May.
The Mercy For Animals video prompted the B.C. Society for the Protection of Animals to launch an investigation. The BC SPCA also recommended that animal cruelty charges be laid against eight workers at the Chilliwack farm.
The farm’s co-owner, Jeff Kooyman, told CTV News that they are working with the BC SPCA and regulatory authorities in the investigation. In a statement, Chilliwack said animal care is “of primary importance” on the farm.
In a statement released earlier this week, Saputo said it was “outraged” by the alleged animal abuse and fully supports the SPCA investigation.
Saputo also said the company doesn’t have the ability to select the farms from which milk is sourced, as dairy processors, under provincial legislation, are required to purchase their milk through the BC Milk Marketing Board.
In a statement, the B.C. Milk Marketing Board said Saturday that it has resumed normal “pick-up and delivery” of product at Chilliwack Cattle after temporarily suspending milk pick-up while the board awaited expert advice on animal welfare and codes of practice.
Animal welfare advocate Leanne McConnachie is encouraging the public to push for cruelty-free milk, but until there’s improvements made in the industry, she says consumers can show their support by avoiding the products altogether.
“My message to consumers would be reduce or eliminate their dairy where they can; it’s a hard thing for people to do, and not many (are) willing to do it,” McConnachie told CTV News.
With a report by CTV News’ Melanie Nagy