WNC farm found in violation of improper animal waste disposal

On Tuesday, Aug. 12, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a statement, video and photo gallery (link below) claiming a Western North Carolina dairy farm mistreats its animals.

The video showed cows on the farm knee-deep in their own manure, trudging through the sludge while feeding, sleeping and before milking. PETA reported many of the animals were lame and/or emaciated. The farm was alleged to be a milk supplier for grocery chain Harris Teeter.

In a follow-up report posted by the Associated Press, Osborne Farms in Clyde, N.C., was named as the farm in question. When AP reportedly called the farm, the phone line was disconnected.

In an article in the Charlotte Observer, reporter Ely Portillo gained a response from Harris Teeter, denying any link to the Haywood County farm. Similarly, AP received the same statement, along with word on how the accusation may have originated.

From the Charlotte Observer:

But Harris Teeter, a subsidiary of the Kroger Co., said it doesn’t receive any milk from the farm in question.

“Harris Teeter has verified with its supplier Piedmont Milk Producers that we do not receive milk from Osborne Dairy Farm. We will be asking PETA to issue a retraction immediately,” said Harris Teeter spokeswoman Catherine Becker. Osborne Dairy Farm, the farm PETA filmed, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Click here for the full story from the Charlotte Observer.

From the Associated Press, on WCNC (NBC Charlotte): [PETA]’s investigator Dan Peden said he found a document a few days ago at the Osborne dairy that showed a shipment of milk was headed to Piedmont Milk’s bulk tank in Hickory. He said a Piedmont Milk sales rep told them the plant supplies “milk exclusively to Harris Teeter.”

But Harris Teeter communications manager Catherine Becker told The Associated Press that the grocery chain’s supplier, Piedmont Milk Sales Inc., doesn’t receive milk from the dairy farm. She said Piedmont Milk is a raw milk supplier for the grocery chain’s dairy.

“Osborne Dairy Farm is a Piedmont producer but, Piedmont has never delivered milk to our dairy from that farm. Again, you will need to speak with Piedmont regarding any questions about that farm,” Becker said.

Piedmont Milk didn’t immediately respond to questions Tuesday afternoon.
Click here for the full story.

At around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources released a statement following an emergency inspection by the Division of Water Resources of the WNC farm, citing six violations — most of which indicate improper animal waste disposal.

“On August 8, 2014, staff from the Asheville Regional Office conducted a complaint investigation at the Osborne Dairy. Animal waste was observed 4 inches to 3 feet deep on the concrete pad in the free-stall area,” reads a letter of violation from the Asheville Regional Office to the operators of Osborne Farm. “Stockpile manure was observed in several areas around the free-stall barn. The inspection followed a rain event of approximately one-half inch. Animal waste was observed running off the concrete free-stall area, down the curbed concrete road leading off the west end of the dairy, and to Conner Mill Branch.”

The report continues in Violation 2 that “it was observed that waste in the dry stack storage area was overflowing into the free-stall barn; waste in the free-stall barn was not being scraped, collected, stored and applied at agronomic rates; and manure was being stockpiled in several areas in and around the free-stall barn.”

The end of the letter concludes that the farm has ten days to correct the six instances of violation, and the “office is considering a recommendation for a civil penalty assessment to the Director of the Division and/or injunctive relief.”

Original Press Release from PETA:

Clyde, N.C. — PETA has obtained video footage of emaciated and lame cows trudging through a pool of their own liquified manure at a Haywood County dairy farm that supplies milk to Matthews-based grocery chain Harris Teeter, a Kroger subsidiary. The video shows that the farm’s waste pit has not been emptied for so long that the manure in it has hardened, with excess waste so high that the cows must wade through it up to their knees. It splats onto the cows’ udders just before they are milked and has left the animals—some of whom also suffer from emaciation and lameness—with skin ulcers and painful hoof ailments. Flies swarm around the cows, who stand in the waste while eating. At night, the cows have no grass, straw, or bedding to lie on so as to escape the manure.

PETA’s findings prompted the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct an emergency inspection of the farm. Local law-enforcement officials plan to investigate the animals’ condition, and the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services is investigating health concerns related to the production of the farm’s milk.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, “Animals are not ours to eat … or to abuse in any other way”—is calling on Harris Teeter to re-examine its “animal welfare standards” immediately, reassess its relationship with this farm and all others that it buys from, and take prompt, meaningful action to improve the lives of cows and calves on its milk suppliers’ farms.

“Shoppers have no idea that the milk on Harris Teeter’s shelves comes from a filthy farm where cows suffer from lameness and must wade knee deep through their own waste,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “The cruel and disgusting conditions that PETA found are enough to turn anyone’s stomach—and prompt a switch to soy or almond milk.”

Photographs from the dairy are available hereFor more information, please visit PETA.org.


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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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