This Week’s Column: Farmers Hate Animal Abuse

Earlier this week, radical animal rights activist group Mercy for Animals (MFA) released an “undercover” video of animal abuses at a dairy near Plain City, Ohio. I watched the video. I was… well, to preserve the decorum of civil discourse, I’ll simply say I was highly inflamed by what I saw on the tape.


Video evidence of a farm employee savagely beating, stabbing, clubbing, and otherwise abusing both cows and calves sent my blood pressure to a medically unsuitable level. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what the animal rights’ activists were looking for.

“Immediately upon completion of the investigation,” the organization proclaimed on its website, “Mercy For Animals contacted the City Prosecutor’s Office of Marysville regarding the ongoing pattern of abuse at Conklin Dairy Farms. MFA is pushing for employees of the facility to be criminally prosecuted for violating Ohio’s animal cruelty laws.”

MFA, however, isn’t waiting on the Union County Sheriff or Prosecuting Attorney to do their jobs: “The deplorable conditions uncovered at Conklin Dairy Farms highlight the reality that animal agriculture is incapable of self-regulation and that meaningful federal and state laws must be implemented and strengthened to prevent egregious cruelty to farmed animals.”

Wait a minute. If MFA is hoping the abusers will be prosecuted under current animal cruelty laws, why the rush to declare that “meaningful federal and state laws must be implemented?”

Like the efforts of its frequent conspirator the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), MFA doesn’t want the legal process to work. Like MFA, HSUS immediately used the allegations of abuse at Conklin to push their own radical vegan agenda: “It is time for the Legislature to upgrade these [animal cruelty] statutes so judges and prosecutors have the tools to handle people who engage in malicious cruelty, including to farm animals,” said HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle in a statement.

Mr. Pacelle is in Ohio this week, touring the state with “family farmers” in support of the HSUS led and funded ballot initiative to force the newly appointed and functioning Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt HSUS-approved regulations for animal housing. Rather than allow the Board to do its constitutionally-mandated job, HSUS is working overtime to convince voters that an out of state activist organization should write the rules for Ohio’s livestock farming community.

For their part, Conklin immediately terminated the employee shown prominently in the video willfully abusing animals. The family says it is working with the authorities conducting the investigation, and are themselves investigating and evaluating how these abuses could happen on their farm.

As a cattleman, I’m “mad as hell” that anyone would think its okay to treat animals the way the MFA video showed an employee abusing cows. I’m overjoyed, however, that Ohio’s dairy leaders took strong and immediate stances against this type of behavior in any shape or form. Scott Higgins, Executive Director of the Ohio Dairy Producers’ Association said “It’s simply deplorable, it’s unacceptable behavior, and we support the efforts of the appropriate law enforcement officers investigating this swiftly and taking action immediately.”

Scott, and his colleagues throughout the agriculture community, are right to strongly and immediately condemn these abuses, but more importantly, it’s obvious that all of us in the farm community were outraged not about the continued assaults on animal agriculture from the radical vegan community, but that the abuses happened in the first place. To quote Scott, we “have a moral and ethical obligation to provide excellent care for our herds every day.”

It’s no coincidence that Mercy For Animals released this footage shortly before HSUS is due to turn in signatures for its proposed ballot measure, nor that Pacelle was in Columbus for a “panel discussion” on the very day the video was released. HSUS signature gathering efforts have fallen far short of their expectations, according to their published reports, and it gives me pause to consider that the “undercover investigation” at Conklin started just over a month ago.

Nonetheless, those of us who choose to be involved in the production and care of food animals do so because we love the animals, we love the people, and we love the end product. We’re defensive of our community, both from the attackers on the outside, and as importantly from those on the inside who do us harm by ignoring their own moral and ethical responsibilities.