PETA suit accuses Organic Valley of cruelty to dairy cows, calves

Animal rights organization sues La Farge-based cooperative on behalf of California woman
Organic Valley Logo

LA FARGE, Wis. (WKBT) — Attorneys for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of a California woman who accuses La Farge-based Organic Valley cooperative of cruelty to dairy cows and calves.

The lawsuit is on behalf of Amber Takahashi-Mendoza, who alleges that the company misled her into buying its products at premium prices with the false claim that it treats cows “with love.”

On the contrary, the suit contends, co-op members separate newborn calves from distraught mothers.

“All babies need their mothers, and as a mother myself, I can’t imagine a greater trauma than having my newborn taken from me,” Takahashi-Mendoza said.

“I am sure other people bought Organic Valley milk thinking its cartons promising humane animal care practices — not to mention love — meant it didn’t inflict some of the cruelest practices typical of dairy factory farming,” she said.

Cows “have been observed on dairy farms running after the trucks taking their babies away and crying for days over the loss,” the PETA suit contends.

The suit aims to “upend factory-farming practices,” according to PETA.

Organic Valley touts itself as the “Un-Corporation, with its owners being its nearly nearly 1,800 member farmers. Founded by a handful of farmers in 1988, the co-op is the largest organic farming cooperative in the United States, with more than $1 billion in sales throughout much of the country and in several foreign countries.

The PETA suit cites numerous studies showing public disapproval of removing calves from their mothers, describing it as “unethical,” “inhumane,” “cruel” and “totally unacceptable.”

According to the suit, Takahashi-Mendoza paid extra for Organic Valley’s milk on the basis of its claim that it treats cows “with love.”

She counters that Organic Valley:

  • Denies vulnerable calves enough of a weaning period before taking them from their mothers, inflicting “immense psychological and physical suffering on both.”
  • “Allows calves to be raised in isolation without vital socialization and natural sustenance.”
  • “Claims on its milk cartons, despite these inhumane practices, to provide cows with the ‘highest standards’ of animal care, which go ‘above and beyond other standards’ and charges a higher price based on those assurances.”

PETA Foundation attorneys filed the lawsuit in the Superior Court of California in Alameda County.

News 8 Now has reached out to Organic Valley for a response.

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