Deputies from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a Florida farm after footage leaked by animal-rights activist group Animal Recovery Mission appears to show farm workers mistreating dairy cows at Larson Dairy Farm in Okeechobee County, according to WTVT.
The video and an accompanying letter allege that workers beat cows on their torsos and heads to increase milk production, using their hands and feet as well as blunt objects like construction rebar. ARM claims the investigation began in August.
In addition to publishing the findings on their website, the group mailed their claims and evidence to the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen addressed the video and his office’s response in a press conference today, promising a thorough investigation of the alleged abuse.
ARM claims that their operatives were encouraged to abuse the animals by owner Jacob Larson himself, saying that workers “beat the cows into submission” in teams.
Sheriff Stephen expressed some skepticism at those claims, insisting that owners Jacob and Woody Larson “would not condone this activity had they known about it. They’d have fired them on the spot.”
They appear to have done just that one Larson Dairy employee has been fired and two have been suspended since the release of the video, according to the Treasure Coast Palm. The dairy farm is also investigating the video and the employees pictured in it.
Publix, which used the Larson farm as a supplier of milk, has ended its relationship with the farm around the allegations. At this time, the farm is still producing milk.
The full video released by ARM can be found here. [WARNING: This video contains graphic content.]