Dear Strack and Van Til, Family Express and Jewel-Osco management,
I am not going to get into all the details of what happened at Fair Oaks Farms, because I do not have all of the facts. I do not believe that anyone does. I have worked in the agriculture industry for over 35 years (including feeding dairy calves as a teenager) and what was captured in the ARM-produced videos really disturbs me. I guarantee that this is not the standard operating procedure at Fair Oaks Farms or any other dairy. It looks like “bad” choices were made by a few “bad employees and their immediate supervisor completely dropped the ball. Or, was this behavior “set up” by ARM? Either way, the folks at ARM are playing out their very well-orchestrated campaign to spread their agenda and give all dairy farms and production agriculture in general a “black eye.” Why else would they wait so long to share their findings and why would they release it at Coca Cola’s headquarters?
What I would like to know is why retailers like yourself pulled the Fair Oaks Farms products so quickly before all the facts have been presented. This is the exact emotional reaction that ARM was looking for, except their real target was Coca-Cola. Fair Oaks Farms really needed partners to stand firm with them. Unfortunately, your companies were some of the first to cave in. Your actions make it even more difficult for Fair Oaks Farms. Why wouldn’t you just set back and let the consumer decide if they want to buy Fair Oaks Farms products from your shelves?
Did you ever consider if the roles were reversed and your company was in a similar situation as Fair Oaks Farms? What if your entire company suddenly came under intense scrutiny because of the embarrassing actions of a small group of employees at one of your locations. Would some of your key suppliers immediately stop selling you their products when all the bad press started to spread like wildfire (especially from the “experts” on Facebook)? My guess is that your company would really appreciate the suppliers that have the guts to stick with you, rather than running away.
I realize that these decisions are extremely tough and can have significant financial implications. In the future, I encourage your company to gather all the facts, before making quick emotional decisions which impact so many people. Again, I would suggest letting the consumer decide what they want to buy. I am going to continue to purchase Fair Oaks Farms products from locations that stock them. I hope to support your business in the future, when you put their products back on the shelf.