After an undercover mission to expose cruelty at factory farms, the Humane Society has filed a legal complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange and Federal Trade Commission (U.S. SEC) alleging false and misleading statements about animal care from one of the nation’s largest pig farms. The allegations were released along with a very sad video of the alleged animal abuse including employees cutting off piglet testicles and tails without anesthesia, employees hitting pigs’ genitals to get them to move to different crates, and piglets with their legs duct-taped to their abdomens at two pig farms in Goodwell, Oklahoma (one of which supplies meat to Walmart). We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again in perpetuity until the problem is solved – the practices of factory farms should make us all rethink our food habits. As the epic documentary Food Inc. so perfectly states, let’s be a positive part of the system and stick to small local farms where animals are treated fairly or (if you’re so inclined) go veggie. Either way, this latest outing of atrocious farming practices should have us all thinking about what we can do to help initiate real change.
The Humane Society only filed a complaint against Seaboard Foods, the nations third largest pig producer, claiming their public statements about animal rights are misleading to consumers — Prestage Farms is the other involved in the investigation and is the nations fifth largest pig producer. Seaboard’s public commitment to animal care says, “we are committed to proper animal care and have a moral and ethical obligation to the humane treatment of animals. We believe food animals can and should be raised, transported and processed using procedures that are safe and free from cruelty and neglect.” That statement is completely out of line with what is proven in the Humane Society’s video to be the reality of Seaboard’s practices and according to the U.S. SEC you can’t lie about your product, which Seaboard is obviously doing.
In the video the Humane Society caught animals in “breeding crates”, small pens where pregnant sows are kept during gestation. The videos released by the Humane Society show, “prolonged suffering of pigs used for breeding who are confined in cages so small the animals can’t even turn around, rendering them virtually immobilized for their entire lives.” The Humane Society also found, “lame pigs, pigs with gross abscesses, torn ears and noses, and ripped genitals and piglets sickened by “greasy pig” disease were not seen by veterinarians,” within both the Prestage and Seaboard facilities. They found abusive employees were cutting off piglet testicles and tails without anesthesia, employees hitting pigs’ genitals to get them to move to different crates, piglets with their legs duct-taped to their abdomens and gestation crates overflowing with feces and filth.
“The pork industry’s notorious disregard for animal welfare is perhaps greater than in any other sector of the meat industry,” said Paul Shapiro, the Humane Society’s senior director of farm animal protection. “Permanently cramming pigs into cages so small they can barely move is simply out of step with mainstream American values about the proper treatment of animals.” Seaboard posted a statement on its website this week saying they refuted any claims of animal abuse at their facilities and Ron Prestage of Prestage Farms told Reuters that he thought the video did not show any abuses at their facilities. He told them that his family, who owns the farm, had initiated an internal investigation to see that company policies are being adhered to by employees. Our wonder is, if there aren’t abuses in these horrifying videos, then what are the Prestige company policies? Seaboard’s animal welfare advisor, Temple Grandin, Ph.D has said he wants the gestation crates to go and that, “confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.”
We are hoping that the complaints filed at the SEC cause these two producers to right their wrongs, but we are surely not going to count on it. The Humane Society has done a great service, outing these companies for their awful animal abuses and we thank them for giving us another reason to stick to our small family farm ideals. Knowing your farmer and knowing your food is the greatest way to have your meat and eat it too.