Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Saputo vows to use “whatever resources I have” to reform dairy industry in wake of BC abuse of dairy cows

June 17, 2014 Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL — Saputo Inc. means business. Lino Saputo Jr., CEO of the Montreal dairy giant, is calling for an independent investigation of the horrific abuse of dairy cows captured on video and allegedly perpetrated by eight employees at a farm in British Columbia.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Saputo said that the Chilliwack Cattle Sales case is so egregious that "we're no longer receiving milk from them and we won't until such time as I get a written or verbal report from an independent inspector."

Saputo said he wants a reform of the dairy industry that would adopt "enforceable standards ... and that would carry legal appropriate measures."

A law in the Criminal Code would bypass the need for each of Canada's 10 dairy marketing boards to adopt their own laws and regulations, Saputo said. "Would that include jail time? Absolutely."

He called a video shot by B.C.'s Mercy for Animals group "appalling, disgusting." The acts were perpetrated by "delinquents," he added, "and perhaps due to lack of management somewhere that didn't know what was going on." The vast majority of farms he has visited around the world are run by "honourable people."

An outside expert could come from the ranks of animal rights activists, Saputo said, including the SPCA. But animal rights activists remained on their guard.

Sophie Gaillard, a lawyer and campaigns manager for the Montreal branch of the SPCA, welcomed the call for criminalization of cruelty to animals. Only Newfoundland has "minimal care standards for farm animals," Gaillard said. "(Saputo) wants a national application of a (criminal) code, and that's something we certainly would like to see, like it is for cats and dogs."

But Gaillard also noted that "the problem of treatment of animals in the agri-food business is a systemic one. It's not new, it's not isolated incidents like everyone is trying to make us believe. Yes, there are deliberate acts of cruelty (like Chilliwack), but there is also an inherent cruelty to the industrial system of raising cattle."

"Saputo, like everyone else in the industry, knows quite well for instance that the vast majority of dairy cows spend their entire lives chained indoors and never walk outside." "In our opinion, that's also cruelty, a systemic cruelty inherent in the methods of raising farm animals."

Jeff Pierce, a lawyer for the Animal Legal Defense Fund in California, also said he welcomes a full investigation by an independent expert. "But at this point, we'd like to see an inquiry by police or any other law enforcement agency," Pierce said.

"I think it's a mistake to scapegoat the eight employees caught on video. I understand from the Mercy for Animals people in B.C. that they tried on several occasions to get the farm leadership to investigate, and that they declined to do so."

The call for criminalization of mistreatment of animals in some U.S. states received support — before collapsing into a stunning reversal of fortunes that led to so-called "ag gag" laws.

A prosecution of a farm in Idaho that had mistreated animals brought a coordinated response by the powerful agri-food industry that led to a law forbidding prosecution of farmers for ill treatment of animals. But Saputo said that he's on a personal campaign to ensure that the same doesn't happen in Canada.

 "Before I'm the CEO of this company, I'm a father of two kids, I'm a husband to my wife and I'm a consumer of products." "And I'm just appalled at what I saw. As a CEO, I'm going to use whatever resources I have to try to be at the forefront of this movement." He said that he expects many of his competitors to rally to the cause.

"Saputo's values were truly offended, the values of our customers and consumers were truly offended. Irrespective of whether we're alone in this, I want to push this thing forward."

The rule by the B.C. Milk Marketing Board that regulates the dairy industry states that no food processor can refuse milk from a particular farm for any reason other than quality, said Saputo spokesperson Sandy Vassiadis. But later on Tuesday, the B.C. board said it will destroy milk from the farm where staff were captured on video allegedly beating cattle.

The province's SPCA has recommended charges against eight former employees of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, who were fired after the video was made public.

The marketing board says processors have requested not to receive milk from the farm until additional audits are finished, and due to that lack of demand, milk from the company must be destroyed.

The board initially suspended milk pickup from the farm but that resumed this week after the board said it was satisfied that animal welfare issues were being addressed. Charges have not yet been laid and the allegations have not been proved in court.

Comment: The animal agriculture is inherently cruel; the battery cages, veal crates, sow stalls, forced pregnancies, stealing babies from their mothers, unable to express normal behaviours – the list goes on and on. Born into a life of misery from the day they are born until they slaughtered. It’s criminal, yet legal, and standard practice by industry groups. Don’t be part of it. Let politicians know you want action. Let’s hope Saputo is sincere and that changes are on the horizon.

May 18, 2017 update: A judge sentenced the three who pleaded guilty in the Chilliwack Cattle Sales case to jail time. BC Supreme Court Justice Gary Cohen handed Travis Keefer to seven days jail and he is forbidden from being in care or control of animals for one year. Chris Vandyke and Jamie Visser were sentenced to 60 days in jail and are banned from owning animals for three years. This is the first time in Canadian history that workers were sentenced to jail for malicious animal abuse after an undercover investigation by an animal protection organization. The charges stemmed from a June 2014 video released by Mercy for Animals.

The entire animal agriculture industry itself is inherently abusive & cruel, and for those cows to be further subjected to torture is extremely disturbing and repugnant. Please continue to fight for the voiceless. The legal system responds to changing values & concerns within society.

Undercover video by MFA reveals severe abuse of dairy cows at Chilliwack Cattle Sales; inherent wrongs exposed throughout industry; flagrant abuse at Quebec veal farm; mad cow disease AB; countries ban Cdn beef due to BSE