Investigation into cow abuse at Fl dairy farm: Publix suspends milk deliveries

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Disturbing surveillance video at an Okeechobee, Florida dairy farm which sells and distributes milk to Publix supermarkets has prompted an investigation for cow abuse and cruelty. Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen, announced an investigation is currently underway, and stated the focus is on three workers at the dairy operation; criminal charges are likely to filed.

The video and extensive report, released on Thursday morning by Miami based animal cruelty investigative organization, Animal Recovery Mission, (ARM) detailed workers at the Larson Dairy located in Okeechobee brutally kicking cows in the face and body, beating them with metal rods and mercilessly poking them inside of the barn and milking stalls if the cows didn’t immediately cooperate.

“Cows are ridiculed and tormented as they are maneuvered to the milk production lines by the use of electrical prods, withstanding violent and excessive force. Cows are beaten into submission with metal construction rods known as rebar. Undercover agents documented several forms of ‘home-made’ torture tools including a spear-like weapon that is used to repeatedly stab the animal in the ribs, inflicting wounds that are left untreated. They are also beaten over their heads and bodies with these rods… the cows fall to the ground.”

The undercover investigation began in August when an investigator with ARM procured a job milking cows at the dairy and “captured and documented extensive and widespread abuse.” According to Richard “Kudo” Couto, the investigator worked at the farm during August and September, but had to leave when he became ill. The “disturbing and horrific” violence towards the animals went on everyday, and according to reports, the undercover worker was constantly harassed for not picking up metal rebars and beating the cows.

“Every single person including the manager and foreman were beating them to death,” Kudo reported. “It saddens me knowing these cows are still in the hands of such abusers. The unfortunate reality is the abusive practices we found at Larson are a plague across much of the dairy industry.”

Several hours after the video was posted on social media, Publix suspended the purchase of raw milk from the farm which it buys through the dairy cooperative – Southeast Milk.

The farm has been owned and operated by the Larson family since 1947 and has been in Okeechobee County since 1971. The owner, Jacob Larson issued the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened and appalled by the actions in this video, which first came to our attention this morning. The unusual use of force is simply unacceptable on our dairy or on any other farm.

We have strict protocols involving animal care and clearly the behavior shown in this video goes against everything we stand for and will not be tolerated. The employee involved and feature in the video has been terminated. Further corrective action will be taken if necessary as we continue to analyze the video and conduct our own on-farm investigation.

We are equally concerned about the manner in which this video was brought to our attention. Had the “undercover” employee brought this to our attention when it occurred we may have been able to prevent it earlier.

Dairy farmers have the utmost responsibility to compassionately care for our animals and this is not an adequate reflection of how we do that on a daily basis.”

(Photos courtesy of Animal Recovery Mission)

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Video: Graphic – May not be suitable for all viewing audiences. (Absolutely heartbreaking that this is the daily life of a dairy cow .)

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19 replies
  1. Jacqueline Kenny says:

    It takes psychopaths to work at these places. Pretty sure the owners would have know of the abuse it makes one sick. Thank you Publix for doing the right thing. Wake up people it’s a sick world we live in.

    Reply
  2. vicki hood says:

    Suspended the purchase of raw milk? That is a very small portion of the farm production. Did you see the size of the cows udders? Those huge udders come from hormones that make cows produce more milk. That hormone is not allowed in raw milk. That hormone kills a cow in just a few years. Cows then suffocate throwing up blood by the gallons. Not much of a lifespan. Drinking cows milk? eating cow cheese? cow ice cream? You are consuming loads of hormones. See the workers? Bet they are illegals. Immigrants work for cheap and cheap is what dairy pays

    If ever you knew a cow personally your heart would hurt, break and scream. They are so special. They are loving and gentle and such good parents. They are family oriented and would die for their own. They have died for their own. I had a magnificent steer and cow. Joe would play like a puppy. He was always so mindful to keep me from being hurt. He did his dance when he saw me coming . Oh how i loved him and Daisy too. Daisy committed suicide a week after Joe died. RIP my babies. At least you were not on a dairy farm. Glad to know and love you. .

    Reply
  3. susispot says:

    The dairy owner should take more time to oversee the care of the animals on his dairy/farm. Easy to turn a blind eye to the abuse if you don’t go into “the barn”. He needs to get of his damn ass and get involved. He is equally guilty of the abuse if he is an armchair business owner. Animals suffer pain just as you and I do.

    Reply
    • Darla says:

      At the very least, I’m sure milk production was down because of the animals’ suffering. How could the owner not investigate when his paychecks weren’t as high as before?

      I’ve seen way too many videos like this – it goes on in many, many places. My heart breaks for the suffering of these poor cows.

      Reply
  4. Mary Ann Clark says:

    Shut down this farm and put all the cows into a sanctuary! Make sure that these sadistic employees stay in prison!

    Reply
  5. Adrienne says:

    This dairy owner just feels the way he does because his workers got caught, not because he has any compassion for these cows. He should have been going into the milking areas unannounced and other sections where the cows move around and he would have seen for himself what goes on on a daily basis. These “secrets” of the dairy industry is known by average people yet these farmers do nothing to change the situation until they have really high fines to pay.Thanks to the undercover investigator for risking his life to bring this abuse into the open. More needs to be done because these animals need protection from these scum who work on the farms torturing them daily. USDA, where are you and you caring for farm animals?

    Reply
    • Darla says:

      The former governor of Iowa signed a whistle-blower law which would subject such people to fines and/or jail sentences if they exposed animal abuse. I was so appalled by that action – then I find out that the governor owns a livestock operation. Talk about not being impartial.

      Reply
  6. Helen says:

    I find it very very sickening that farmers can let there life stock be treated in this way,it also madden’s me that people treat animals like punching bags.& the scum bag that got fired should be charged & no doubt he will get work on another farm & keep abusing ALL animals.

    Reply
  7. ellen cottone says:

    reading between the lines. you are saying you are unhappy the teller waited till he got proof in video because you say if he came forward earlier it could have been stopped? maybe he like myself felt that video proof was the only thing that would stopped the abuse for good. why do i feel you have always allowed this and turned a blind eye to the abuse.

    Reply
  8. PAMELA D says:

    DO YOU EVER NOTICE THESE FUCKING COWARDS HAVE TO TIE THE ANIMALS UP OR AT LEAST HAVE THEM CONFINED TO THEY CAN TORTURE THE ANIMALS. I WOULD LOVE TO KICK THIS USELESS POS LOW LIFE IN THE HEAD. TOO BAD HE DIDN’T DIE WHEN HE WAS KICKING THE COW. I COULDN’T EVEN WATCH THE VIDEO I MIGHT KILL SOMEBODY.

    Reply
  9. Nancy Raymond says:

    I do applaud Publix markets for suspending the raw milk produced by the Larson family in light of the horrific abuse these defenseless animals suffered – I also am suspicious of the Larson’s statement that they were not aware of what these ‘workers’ were doing – it is obvious the cruelty was rampant, ongoing and ALL workers were involved – what more does this family need to fire ALL of them? To me, the Larsons are giving a lot of lip service – they best step up and change their staff from top to bottom – their reputation is in the dump – these cows provide them with their income and deserve to be treated humanely.

    Reply
  10. Red says:

    I couldn’t even WATCH a video…. these poor investigators are having to BE THERE and SEE AND HEAR what is going on. God bless you for the work you do and SHAME ON THIS DAIRY!!! YOU can not plead ignorance to this much abuse!! You had to know and see it happening…. SHAME ON LARSONS!!!!!

    Reply
  11. Sorry Effing Hernandez says:

    I would shoot every illegel (i’m assuming) that is in this video. You’re illegeal…no one will look for your bodies.

    Reply
  12. D Barber says:

    Somebody bomb these farm people while they sleep, mercy kill everybody involved with this filthy farm, especially the owners. Set their houses on fire with them in it and shoot them when they come running out, they are filthy beast as people, the children also if they have any because they have learned to abuse the cattle. No mercy

    Reply
  13. D Barber says:

    I know they won’t let this message be sent because they are as sick as the animals abusing these great and wonderful animals, sick perverted animals themselves, that is what happens when animals raise animals, these people are not fully humans themselves.

    Reply

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