On Aug. 31, Mercy For Animals (MFA), the same group that released the footage from the Conklin Dairy in Plain City earlier this year, released hidden video taken from Buckeye Veal
Farm in Apple Creek. The animal rights group claimed the video showed “cruel” behavior and hoped it would prompt action by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
“As the appointed body to create minimal standards for Ohio’s agricultural
community, it is your responsibility to ensure that farmed animals in Ohio are not forced to suffer egregious cruelty; however, the Board has yet to implement a single standard,” said MFA in a letter sent to members of the OLCSB the day the Buckeye Veal footage was released. “MFA urges you to immediately implement standards phasing out crated veal production.”
MFA called on the OLCSB to honor an agreement reached in June by leaders of Ohio’s farm community, humane organizations and Governor Ted Strickland that would, among other
things, phase out the confinement of calves in veal crates by 2017.
However, the heavily produced video, which included narration by long-time “The Price Is Right” television game-show host and animal activist Bob Barker, showed nothing illegal occurring at Buckeye Veal and focused most of the video on prior footage taken from other farms.
In a released statement, Gaylord Barkman, who directs services and sales for Buckeye Veal, said the coverage was misleading.
“This sensationalized video is deceptive to viewers because it includes shots from multiple farms not affiliated with Buckeye Veal in any way,” Barkman said. “In fact, only a small percentage of the footage is from our farms.”
Ironically, Buckeye Veal already was in the process of converting to group housing, to meet customer demands, Barkman said.
“We know from experience that veal
calves can be properly cared for in both individual and group pens,” he said. “However, we know that needs and demands of our customers are changing. That’s why we made a decision to convert all our facilities to group housing, a process scheduled to be completed by 2013.”
This is ahead of the 2017 deadline established by the American Veal Association.
Bob Cochrell, an Ohio veal producer from Burbank and a member of the OLCSB Veal Subcommittee, was not pleased with the latest MFA footage.
“This is not about group pens versus individual pens, or how fast we can
‘convert.’ This is a deliberate attempt for this extremist group to sabotage the process that the voters of Ohio overwhelmingly approved to be carried out last November,” Cochrell said. “They
desire to hijack the outcome through blatant, emotional misrepresentation of the truth from the outside. MFA seeks to use their arsenal of fabrications, halftruths and intimidation to further their extremist agenda of discrimination against anyone that consumes or produces
The video is deliberately edited to emotionally sensationalize the situation. The footage from Buckeye Veal shows no abuse or illegal practices, Cochrell said.
“Approximately 90% of the veal produced in Ohio is raised by small Amish or Mennonite farmers. Most often the entire family cares for the calves,” Cochrell said. “Does anyone really
believe that these ‘gentle’ people are anything less than compassionate about the care they give their calves?”
The OLCSB needs to be able to carry out its duties based on sound, objective criteria not subjective, emotional rhetoric, he said.
“The animal rights’ agenda is to reduce, refine and replace animal agriculture
production,” Cochrell said. “They will not be pacified. They are already effectively doing the first two strategies. The last is their ultimate goal.”
In a released statement, the Ohio Beef Council (OBC) said they take allegations of mistreatment on any livestock farm seriously, and advocate swift action against those found to be mistreating animals.
“However, it is essential to discern between animal mistreatment and production practices that ensure the safety of farm animals and the safe production of food,” the OBC statement said.
“It is equally important to understand that this video was specially produced to further the particular agenda of one activist group.”
The OLCSB veal sub-committee is currently studying various production and housing methods for veal calves, and will be making recommendations to the Board for its consideration in the very near future, OBC said, and “we support this process of study and public dialogue.”