The owner of a large Twin Falls County dairy operation says he fired five of his employees in August after seeing an undercover video made at a farm near Hansen. Luis Bettencourt’s operation at Dry Creek Dairy was the apparent target of an animal rights group.
The head of the Idaho Dairy Association, Bob Naerebout, says the video shows a cow with a chain around its neck being pulled by a tractor. He says cows are kicked and jumped on in the recording. It also shows workers using an electrical prod on the animals.
Bettencourt says he hired a worker named Jason Smith in July. Smith worked at the Hansen dairy. He was with the company for 30 days. Bettencourt believes Smith was responsible for making the undercover video.
Los Angeles-based Mercy For Animals says it plans to release footage captured at an Idaho dairy at a press conference in Boise on Wednesday. The group hasn’t confirmed that the video it will show was made at the Bettencourt facility.
Bettencourt says he was notified of the video by the state agriculture department in late August. The owner says he cooperated while ag officials investigated. The Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Department conducted a separate investigation.
The owner says the five workers he fired were later charged by police. A clerk in the Twin Falls County courthouse, though, couldn’t confirm the charges.
Bettencourt says he was “devastated” by what he saw on the video and that he’s taken steps to make sure nothing similar happens again. He wasn’t willing to talk on tape, but told KBSX he’s since installed cameras at the Dry Creek dairy and hired an extra supervisor to better monitor workers. He’s also shown the video to all of his workers.
Naerebout, with the state dairy association, calls the video “very disturbing” and says the workers’ actions are not tolerated in the dairy industry.
Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio