Larson Family Farm continues to run following animal abuse allegations
OKEECHOBEE, Fla. (CBS12) —
The Larson Dairy Farm is continuing its milk production after an animal rights group released a graphic video.
Animal Recovery Mission claims the video shows cows getting abused at the Okeechobee farm.
Since the video went viral, Publix has dropped the dairy farm as a milk provider.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has also placed the farm on probation.
NMPF decided to put the farm on probation because it believes the farm does not meet the criteria for its national dairy farm program, which focuses on animal welfare standards.
“We used information from conversations with the farm owner, with a cooperative and information that was presented in the video,” said Jamie Jonker, NMPF Vice President of Sustainability and Scientific Affairs.
Despite the probation, according to Jonker, the milk can still be distributed.
“The sale of milk is a food safety issue that is regulated by the state," Jonker said. "So as long as they have a market place that will accept their can continue to sell their milk."
The probation period could last a year depending on this week’s in-depth audit.
If the third-party auditor finds deficiencies with the current state of animal care on the farm, they will put together an animal care improvement plan for the farm.
It’s up to the farm to address the issues before being reinstated into the program a year later.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released this statement:
Our department conducts onsite inspections of dairy farms to ensure the safety and quality of milk products.
In the meantime, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office continues its ongoing criminal investigation.
On Monday, Sheriff Noel Stephen said he received photos of and the video on the day ARM unveiled the video.
He went also released the following:
As I said last week, I’ve known the Larson family for years and they would not condone such behavior. I was in contact with two of the farm's owners, Woody and Jacob Larson. The Larsons welcomed the investigation. Had they known about it (alleged abuse), they would have fired them on the spot. One of the employees in the pictures was fired and two more were suspended pending an investigation by the dairy farm. In my thirty years working at the Sheriff’s Office we have never received any innuendos, complaints or allegations in regards to the Larsons themselves. The dairy operations will continue because these cattle have to be milked twice a day or they will get sick. I had not seen the video prior to last week’s press conference. I have since watched the video. As I stated last week, I really wish the individuals who recorded the video would have given the video to OCSO at the time, because the abuse probably continued, unnecessarily, up until that time. It was unfortunately publicized before it was ever reported. According to what has been reported, the Animal Recovery Mission had three weeks of undercover investigating they conducted. Had this alleged abuse been brought to our attention, my deputies and detectives could have resolved this issue then. The case is being investigated by Detective Lt. Brad Stark. There is no further information to be released at this time.
Jacob Larson couldn't be reached for comment.