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B.C. milk board to destroy milk from farm accused of cattle abuse

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VANCOUVER - Milk produced on a British Columbia farm where workers were captured on video allegedly beating cattle will be destroyed, says the industry's regulatory board.

Tuesday's announcement by the BC Milk Marketing Board came one day after dairy-food giant Saputo Inc. (TSX:SAP) said it would not accept milk from Chilliwack Cattle Sales.

The SPCA in B.C. has recommended charges against eight fired employees of the Fraser Valley farm, after Mercy for Animals Canada publicized the undercover video filmed by the group.

A notice published online by the milk board states processors do not want any product from the company until independent audits of its operations are complete.

"The board will act in accordance with processor requests and, due to a lack of market, the milk will be destroyed," the board said in the notice.

It did not say how much milk would be destroyed.

No one from Chilliwack Cattle Sales was immediately available for comment Tuesday but farm owner Jeff Kooyman has described the video as "horrifying to watch."

He has previously said that he didn't know why the young men seen on the video kicking, punching and beating the animals with pipes took such action.

Charges have not yet been laid and the allegations have not been proven in court.

Kooyman has said the dairy operation will put in security cameras that will be monitored and would work with the SPCA on better training for staff.

The board initially suspended milk pickup from the farm but it resumed this week after the board announced it was satisfied that animal-welfare issues were being addressed.

Montreal-based Saputo has noted that it does not own or operate any dairy farms in British Columbia or anywhere in Canada and, like all dairy processors in the country, is required by law to buy milk from provincial milk marketing boards.

It has also stated that it supports the recommendation of the SPCA in B.C. that the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, published in 2009, be adopted into law in the province.

Chilliwack Cattle Sales has more than 3,500 animals and is the largest dairy farm in the country. It is certified under the Canadian Quality Milk Program run by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, which aims to ensure proper management and food safety on dairy farms.

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