Group Claims Larson Dairy Farm Owner Knew of, Participated in Alleged Animal Abuse

A animal rights group released new video Wednesday of alleged abuse at a Florida dairy farm and is claiming that the owner of the business knew about and participated in the abuse.

The footage was released by Animal Recovery Mission founder Richard Couto at a news conference in Deerfield Beach.

Couto says the new video shows Jacob Larson, the owner of Larson Dairy Farm in Okeechobee, witnessing employees using excessive force in the milking parlor. Larson was also observed in an incident where he restricted a cow while an employee kicked the animal in the head, Couto said.

"His actual office is mere feet from the milking parlor so when our undercover investigator was in Jacob Larson's office having conversations with him, they could hear the screaming and the yelling of the workers moving these animals," Couto said. "Nothing was hidden at this property."

NBC 6 has reached out to Larson Dairy for comment but has yet to hear back.

"As announced last month, SMI has begun to implement comprehensive remedial management trainings on cow and calf care, and is also encouraging its members to implement and strengthen video surveillance on their farms," Jim Sleper, CEO of dairy cooperative Southeast Milk, said in a statement Wednesday. "Working with industry experts, this week I am personally leading mandatory training sessions for all our member owners or operators across all states where SMI has farms. Animal abuse is never tolerated, and rather than speculate about what may have happened in the past, as ARM did today during its press conference, we instead are fully focused on moving forward with a renewed commitment to animal care and employee management and training."

ARM released undercover video last month that showed Larson employees kicking and beating the cows, sometimes repeatedly hitting them with sticks and other objects.

The group says employees and independent contractors at the dairy farm were told to get as much milk out of the cows as necessary, even if that meant using pieces of steel as weapons.

After the release of the video last month, Jacob Larson said he was "appalled" and had fired the worker involved.

"We are deeply saddened and appalled by the actions witnessed in this video, which first came to our attention this morning. The unusual use of force is simply unacceptable on our dairy or on any other farm," Larson said in a statement. "We have strict protocols involving animal care and clearly the behavior shown in this video goes against everything we stand for and will not be tolerated."

The same day the video was released, grocery chain Publix announced that they were suspending raw milk deliveries from Larson Dairy in response to the video.

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