This is not for the faint of heart. But if you eat frozen pizza, you might owe it to yourself to see where the cheese came from.
The activist group Mercy for Animals recently published awful video taken from inside the Wiese Brothers Farm of Greenleaf, Wisconsin—a 2,500-cow farm and a major cheese supplier for Nestlé's DiGiorno Pizza, the country's largest frozen-pizza distributor.
In the video, farmhands are shown kicking, dragging, stabbing, and screaming cusses at ill milk-producing cows. Cows that are too sick to walk are pulled by ropes around the neck or limbs, attached to backhoes. Ulcers and infected open wounds appear common.
"Dragging live cows, and completely suspending them with the cow lift is severe animal abuse," animal behavior expert and livestock industry consultant Temple Grandin told Mercy for Animals. "The actions of these people went beyond rough handling and escalated to the level of cruelty. Kicking, beating, and hard whipping of downed cows is abusive."
Commercial farm abuses like these aren't uncommon. But the sheer brutality of the abuses shown in videos like this one is enough to put many consumers off their appetites. Videos of the abuses are getting rarer, though, owing to a new flurry state-level "ag-gag" laws to ban agricultural photography.
That's a shame, because the videos also get results: DiGiorno announced this morning that it was dropping Wiese Brothers as a supplier. "Nestlé is outraged and deeply saddened by the mistreatment of animals shown in this video," Deborah Cross, a company spokeswoman, told NBC, adding that "we will not accept any cheese made with milk from the Wiese Brothers Farm."
The farm's owners told NBC that they, too, were "shocked and saddened" by the footage and had fired several employees in connection with the abuse.
Gawker was curious, though, if there are any other long-term consequences for a farm where these incidents take place, so we called the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, a trade group that boasts the Wiese Brothers Farm as a member. "As busy as any producer is, whenever you have an organization that is looking out for your best interests, like PDPW is, it is a good thing," one of the Wiese brothers said of the trade group back in 2010.
We'll update this story if the PDPW gets back to us.