Editor’s Note: Here is a link to the two initial news releases that are incorporated into this article. One is from MFA, the other from Buckeye Veal.
APPLE CREEK, Ohio — The television game show host who thousands of American farmers spent hours glued to over the past few decades will today call for a boycott of some of the same products they produce.
Bob Barker, known for his plea to viewers of the Price Is Right to “spay and neuter your pets,” is expected to appear today in an animal rights activist video showing undercover scenes on dairy and veal farms in Ohio and surrounding states.
A long-time animal rights activist and vegetarian, Barker has partnered with the Chicago-based animal rights organization Mercy For Animals, in helping to narrate a compilation of images taken from veal farms in Wayne County, Ohio, a New York Dairy Farm and the Conklin Dairy Farm in Ohio’s Union County.
Barker takes viewers through multiple farms addressing what he and MFA believe is abuse to animals, and concludes by encouraging viewers to become vegetarians and “join me in boycotting both veal and dairy.”
The video is being released throughout the day, with the organization planning news conferences in Columbus, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Seattle. In a released statement, MFA said the video was taken at Buckeye Veal Farm in Apple Creek, Ohio.
It reportedly shows calves chained by their necks and kept in crates “so narrow they cannot turn around, walk, run, play, socialize with other animals, or engage in other basic natural behaviors for their entire lives.”
According to MFA, “the animals are unable to lie down comfortably, breathe fresh air, see sunlight, clean themselves or bond with their mothers.”
Gaylord Barkman, who directs services and sales for Buckeye Veal, said in a released statement the coverage is misleading.
“This sensationalized video is deceptive to viewers because it includes shots from multiple farms not affiliated with Buckeye Veal in any way,” Barkman stated. “In fact, only a small percentage of the footage is from our farms.”
Additionally, Barkman said his company already was in the process of converting to group housing, to meet customer demands.
“We know from experience that veal calves can be properly cared for in both individual and group pens,” he stated. “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.”
Barkman said this “is well ahead of the deadlines established by the American Veal Association and many veal raising states across the nation.”
In one of the barns shown on the video, 85 percent of the calves already are in group housing.
Some of the footage includes scenes from the Conklin Dairy Farm in Ohio’s Union County, where MFA produced an undercover video of alleged abuse in April.
That video resulted in the immediate arrest and firing of one farm worker, but a grand jury determined there was not probable cause for charges against the farm owner, who told the press he did not know the abuse was occurring, and that it likely took place when he was away from the main farm, buying and selling cattle.
The prosecuting attorney in the case, Union County Prosecutor David Phillips, said the MFA film misled viewers to believe the farm’s owner, Gary Conklin, knew and participated in the abuse that occurred at the hands of the now-fired farm worker.
Out of context
In a released statement, Phillips said “they (jury) saw the unedited video of Mr. Conklin’s actions, not the highly inflammatory version released on YouTube by Mercy for Animals. In context, Mr. Conklin’s actions were entirely appropriate.”
Both MFA videos have been produced and released on the heels of national animal rights campaigns. MFA, along with The Humane Society of The United States, are pressuring the newly created Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt a set of animal protection recommendations agreed to by Ohio’s farm commodities, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle.