Statement of Whatcom Family Farmers on the Animal Abuse Allegations Against Local Farmer
April 28, 2017
-Whatcom farmers fully support the action taken by authorities to protect animals and enforce the law against this farmer. The farmer allegedly seriously mistreated animals and allowed manure to contaminate water. Farmers are disheartened and outraged that such abuse and neglect has occurred in our community
-The farm, Snookbrook Farms LLC, was not a commercial milk producer as it did not hold a Grade A producer license. It lost that license after failing Washington State Department of Agriculture inspections and failed to make needed corrections. The farm is in effect a hobby farm with all milk products from the small remaining herd going to the farm’s artisan cheese business.
-The farm has a history of manure contamination and the inspection and enforcement action against the farm demonstrates that our current laws work to protect the environment
-Whatcom dairy farmers who worked with this farmer in past years while he was still a commercial producer are shocked at the conditions that have been described. While aware of serious operational issues, the situation over the winter had clearly deteriorated significantly. Earlier visits did not show any significant animal care issues that clearly emerged since the earlier visits. Efforts these farmers made over the past few years to encourage him to improve operations and offers to purchase the farm were not received positively and promises of improvement were clearly not kept.
-The farm in question, Snookbrook Farms LLC, is located near Birch Bay, in an area of few dairy farms
-The farm was very small with fewer than 50 dairy cows
-The farm did not ship milk commercially since mid-2016 and stopped producing any milk earlier this year. Milk produced after commercial shipping stopped was used exclusively for the farm’s artisan cheese operation.*
-A Farm Services Agency representative visiting the farm reported the very serious animal care situation to the authorities. The state veterinarian’s office was contacted and reported to Whatcom Family Farmers that an initial effort was made to work with the farmer to improve the condition of the animals but without success.
-The state veterinarian reported to Whatcom Family Farmers that 21 dairy cows were rescued from the farm and eleven cow carcasses were found. The animals were confiscated by the authorities on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, April 17
-In addition to the animal care action, the Washington State Department of Agriculture also took enforcement action for alleged violations relating to manure contamination
-The Washington State Veterinarian’s office is participating in the investigation
-The animals rescued are under veterinary care and likely will be offered for adoption; we do not have current information on their condition
-Animal care authorities report that the matter has been referred to the Prosecutor’s office for possible criminal prosecution
[* This information corrected and updated May 1, 2017]