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Fair Oaks Farms

FAIR OAKS — An audit of the dairy farms that make up Fair Oaks Farms indicates the farms are operating within the standards of the dairy industry, according to third-party evaluators.

Fair Oaks co-founder Michael McCloskey said he called for the audit last month after he learned an animal rights group had been undercover video recording the operations of Fair Oaks Farms for the previous six months.

McCloskey made the request to the National Dairy FARM Program of the National Milk Producers Federation in Arlington, Virginia. FARM then assigned a team of third-party evaluators to respond to the farms to determine if they were operating under a framework of best practices.

A team visited the seven farms in Newton County that make up Fair Oaks Farms, a 40-acre destination tourist attraction featuring an operational dairy farm, restaurants, hotel and other amenities, from April 15 through 17.

An executive summary of the audit conducted indicates the company is operating within industry standards.

"The company's training program met or exceeded requirements of the FARM program, including designation of employees who had responsibility for specific areas of animal care and management," according to the summary.

"Performance targets for each of these categories were met," it continued, as it explained what areas were audited within the farms.

"A strong culture of commitment to animal care and welfare was evident in the company's approach to training, their policy of zero tolerance for animal abuse and was also document in the outcome-based measures of the herd, which reflected superior management," reads the audit summary.

"I was very pleased. We had expectations it would be in that realm," McCloskey said of the audit results. 

McCloskey said the undercover videos have not surfaced as yet, nor have they confirmed the identity of the group responsible for taping operations. McCloskey said he's unsure what they might depict. If, however, they captured an incident or action of an employee that would not meet his or the industry's standards, the issue will be addressed promptly, he said.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.