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Milk pick-up from Chilliwack dairy farm resumes

Milk pick-up from Chilliwack Cattle Sales has resumed. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Milk pick-up from Chilliwack Cattle Sales has resumed.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

The BC Milk Marketing Board is again accepting milk from Chilliwack Cattle Sales, saying “ animal welfare issues are being appropriately addressed.”

It had suspended delivery from the farm on Monday after Dairy giant Saputo refused to accept milk from the farm following the release of an undercover video showing graphic images of animal abuse.

Thousands of litres of milk each day were being shipped to a plant in the United States where it was destroyed.

In a statement released late Friday, BC Dairy Association said that was no longer necessary.

“As a result of industry co-operation and collective action, the industry is now able to begin accepting milk from the farm in question, while imposing rigourous monitoring and testing measures to ensure that the animals in question are protected,” it said.

Release of the video unleashed a nationwide fury and calls for the boycott of any business tied to the farm.

The eight farm workers shown in video beating dairy cows with sticks, chains and rakes were fired, and the BC SPCA is recommending criminal charges.

Milk pick-up from the farm was suspended for one day last week as the BC Marketing Board investigated conditions on the farm.

Satisfied that changes had been made, the board lifted that ban, only to reinstate it just days later after Saputo said it would not accept milk from the farm.

“The past few weeks have been a dark time for the BC Dairy Industry,” the dairy association said in its statement.

“We recognize that public trust in the BC dairy industry has been shaken. But we strongly feel that our industry is one that is worth believing in. The community of BC dairy farmers have great concern around this issue. Quick action is on the way.”

The milk marketing board, meanwhile, has taken the following steps:

• The board will oversee an expert veterinary team to provide continued direction for dairy animal welfare practices at Chilliwack Cattle Sales.

• The board will include regulatory changes in board policies for mandatory compliance with the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle for all BC producers.

• The board has invited key dairy industry stakeholders to participate in a “next steps” meeting, with the ultimate objective being a clear and accountable plan for dairy animal welfare.

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