Nov 19, 2014

Sick Abuse of Cows Reveals Nature of Wisconsin Factory Dairy Farms

Wisconsin's farming heritage is a remnant as corporate farming—cruel and polluting—is the modern model of dairy farming in Wisconsin

A video has surfaced of disgusting abuse and beating of cows at the Andrus Dairy Farm in Birnamwood, a village in Marathon and Shawano Counties in northcentral Wisconsin.

The undercover video was produced by the animal rights group, Mercy for Animals.

The video is below at bottom, though any non-psychopathic human ought not watch this repulsive display.

An attorney, Roberta A. Heckes, has tried to spin the cruelty even as the owner of the Andrus Dairy Farm has publically expressed shock.

Heckes' minimizing this abuse is not going over well with corporate America.

"Representatives with Great Lakes Cheese, based in Ohio, said company leaders are outraged by the videos. The abuse violates the company's policies and Great Lakes will no longer buy cheese made from milk that comes from the Birnamwood farm, said Great Lakes spokesman Tim Ault," reports B.C. Kowalski of Stevens Point Journal Media. (Gannett Co.) Other corporations condemn cruelty to animals.

Heckes' cruelty-is-fine November letter to the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune reveals the disingenuous nature of mega dairy farms—the same operations that pollute Wisconsin waters so badly that streams and lakes are becoming dead zones—that defenders like Heckes calls the practice "so-called abuse."

This barbarian treatment is not necessary. As Patt Pisellini of Rome, Wisconsin wrote me this Autumn:

I spent my summers in Clark County, Wisconsin on a dairy farm. We never had a 'lagoon,' and we took our cows out to pasture each morning.

Our milk was safe to drink, and our water did not test positive for nitrates.

Responsible dairy farmers would NEVER let such things happen - AND we knew the names of every cow, because they came when they were called. Our cows didn't recoil from human touch.

A reply to Heckes by retired business consultant, Don Ystad of Rome, Wisconsin is run in full below:

This response from Atty Heckes is indicative of the disintegration of our great farming heritage. As more and more factory farms take over family farming operations, there is a disconnect between the operator and the animals who make the farm possible. Industrialist owners defer to migrants and disconnected employees to care for the animals. Many farm industrialists are akin to the greedy manufacturing industrialists from the early 1900s who had little regard for their environment or their employees. While the EPA forced manufacturers to clean up their act in the 1970s, agriculture was given a bye and we are seeing the effects of it today.

As a counter attack, the writer criticizes media and the "whistle blower", suggesting those trying to report or prevent the mistreatment of animals have an "agenda". What she ignores is that most of us are very supportive of family farms, and we mourn the loss of family farms in Wisconsin as unfeeling corporations drive them out. Citizens are not so naïve as to think that dairy cows are family pets, but we also understand that responsible farmers don't mistreat their animals. And that's the issue here. If the farm owner is being honest in his comments, at the very least he is guilty of mismanagement of his herd by allowing his cows to be beaten and mistreated by uncaring employees. In an age when lobbyists want to make it illegal for citizens to take photos of abuse on CAFOs, be thankful that someone is keeping watch.

Living in a community facing the possibility of a CAFO moving in nearby, I'm very concerned about this transition away from our farming tradition. Bigger is not always better. I'm proud of my family's farming heritage and I appreciate the true family farmers. Let's not confuse disconnected industrial farmers with family farmers.

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