[The following are the full texts of statements provided to ABC News by the various companies involved in Mercy for Animal's investigation into Wiese Brothers Farm. CLICK HERE to read the ABC News report.]
WIESE BROTHERS FARM, subject of Mercy for Animals investigation
Wiese Brothers Farm is family owned and has been in the business of providing the highest quality milk for nearly two decades. On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, we became aware of video footage taken on our farm this fall. We are shocked and saddened to see a few of our employees not following our farm's policies for proper animal care. We have zero tolerance for animal abuse. We are committed to providing optimal care and ask all our employees to demonstrate ongoing respect for every animal at all times.
We are dedicated not only to producing the highest quality milk, but also providing the best care for our animals through every stage of their lives. Because of our commitment to our cows, we work closely with veterinarians and dairy experts to ensure proper care, feeding, and management of our dairy cattle.
Our family has taken the following steps to address the situation:
• We are cooperating fully with the local law enforcement.
• Two employees have been terminated. A third employee has been removed from animal handling responsibilities. Further action will be taken if the investigation warrants it. Additionally, three employees have been identified as specialists who will supervise the care and handling of any cow unable to get up without assistance.
• Within 24 hours after learning about the video, an independent animal care auditor from a national evaluation firm conducted a thorough review of our farm's written protocols for animal handling and observed farm employees and the condition of our animals. While they noted a few areas for improvement, their overall analysis indicated our animals are clean, well cared for and treated appropriately by employees.
• Beginning in early 2012, each of our employees reviewed and signed an animal treatment commitment pledge as part of the hiring process and condition of employment. We have updated that commitment and shared it with the employees who work in the special needs hospital area.
• Employees will be shadowed by their supervisor periodically, and without notice, to ensure protocols in place are being met or exceeded.
Each of these actions, along with any others we add as appropriate, will help us ensure the behaviors seen in this video are never repeated on our farm.
-The Wiese Family
FOREMOST FARMS, farming collective that supplies cheese to DiGiorno
Foremost Farms USA is extremely disappointed by the animal treatment depicted in the video taken at a Wisconsin dairy farm. We have never condoned this behavior, and we work hard to educate all our members and their employees about the importance of animal care and well-being. To protect consumer trust and confidence in the dairy industry, we have discontinued receiving milk from the farm featured in the video.
Animal welfare is critically important to all of us in the dairy food chain, from the farmer to the cooperative, to our customers and consumers. Foremost Farms stands fast in its commitment to ensuring that members understand their ethical obligation to treat animals humanely.
NESTLE, owner of DiGiorno
Nestlé is outraged and deeply saddened by the mistreatment of animals shown in this video. We buy cheese from Foremost Farms which gets milk from the Wiese Brothers' Farm. However, we do expect all of our suppliers and their suppliers to meet our stringent guidelines. We have advised Foremost Farms that we will not accept any cheese made with milk from the Wiese Brothers' Farm.
Nestlé is committed to proper animal handling, and has Responsible Sourcing Guidelines in place to help ensure that our suppliers work according to the same principles and values that we do ourselves. You can find more information on our commitment to Farm Animal Welfare at www.nestle.com/csv/responsible-sourcing/animal-welfare. We will not knowingly work with companies that violate our Responsible Sourcing Guidelines.
It's clear that as an industry we need to take all measures necessary in order to ensure proper and humane animal care and handling.