Fair Oaks Takes Proactive Approach to Activist Video
Mike and Sue McCloskey, owners of Fair Oaks Dairy in Fair Oaks, Indiana, have joined the fraternity of dairy producers who have had undercover videos taken on their farm. Unlike most of the previous situations, the McCloskeys have taken a proactive approach to tell their story first in advance of the negative news that will follow the release of any video.
In a recent post on Facebook, the McCloskeys explain their viewpoint on transparency and how the farm has been certified through the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) program. They talk about the training involved with each employee, and their “See It, Say It” policy on reporting any animal abuse activity. They go on to explain how important the care and safety of animals is to them and to their business.
As of this writing, the Facebook post has been shared 154 times with 542 comments. Many of the comments are positive and supportive of the work Fair Oaks has done, including many who have been to the visitors center. Many, however, aren’t positive, and Fair Oaks has made every effort to respond to those comments when warranted.
A video of the McCloskeys is also on Facebook as well as on YouTube. It’s a personal statement from the owners explaining their belief in transparency, their desire for the utmost in care and comfort for their animals, and their commitment to take corrective actions if necessary once, and if, the video surfaces.
Mike McCloskey also spoke with Clinton Griffiths, editorial director with Farm Journal Broadcast and AgDay anchor. In the interview, McCloskey talks about how they received anonymous calls about several employees whose intent was to shoot undercover videos at Fair Oaks. He says he and his team will assess the videos if and when they appear and make the necessary adjustments if needed.
For advice to producers on how to help avoid situations like this, McCloskey says being involved with the National Dairy FARM program is crucial, as is creating stringent hiring and employee oversight programs. McCloskey says he knows there will be misrepresentation of management practices in the video, and he’s prepared to learn from that and make changes if necessary.
You can hear the full interview by clicking on the link below:
The potential attack on Fair Oaks follows a common theme for activist groups. Generally, they attack major brands to force corrective actions, often resulting in the retail brand making alterations to their supply to cut off the targeted dairy and place more stringent enforcement actions to avoid action and appease concerned consumers. One can only assume that the profile of Fair Oaks and their connection to the fairlife brand made them prime targets for such activist actions.