WARNING: This video contains extremely disturbing imagery.
Mercy For Animals’ latest undercover investigation documents conditions and practices at Iowa Select Farms, the nation’s 4th largest pork producer, between April and June 2011. As a result of this investigation, and the large amount of media attention it received, most of the major clients of Iowa Select have stopped buying pork from them. Costco, Safeway, and Kroger have all stated that they have stopped carrying Iowa Select pork.
This investigation was covered on ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, the Associated Press, and many other news outlets. Millions of people saw the truth about Iowa Select’s cruel day-to-day practices. Within days of the footage being released, the major grocers made the change to stop selling Iowa Select pork. This shows the power of undercover investigations into animal operations.
(summary of video footage after the jump, if you prefer not to watch)…
Of course, none of this progress could have been made if the recently proposed Ag-gag laws were in effect. Iowa is one of the states that have been trying to make it illegal to document anything that happens at an animal facility. After viewing this footage, and seeing the impact it has had on Iowa Select, you can see why the Iowa agriculture industry doesn’t want us to see what happens behind closed doors.
If you’d rather not watch the video, here is some of what it documents:
- Mother sows confined to barren metal crates barely larger than their own bodies – unable to turn around or lie down comfortably for nearly their entire lives
- Workers ripping out the testicles of conscious piglets without the use of painkillers
- Piglets suffering with herniated intestines, due to botched castration
- Conscious piglets having their tails painfully sliced into and yanked off with dull clippers
- Large, open, pus-filled wounds and pressure sores
- Sick and injured pigs left to languish and slowly die without proper veterinary care
- Mother pigs – physically taxed from constant birthing – suffering from distended, inflamed, bleeding, and usually fatal uterine prolapses
- Management training workers to throw piglets across the room – comparing it to a “roller coaster ride”
When we started this blog, we initially intended to avoid posting this kind of video. We prefer to keep things positive. But it is important to acknowledge the world around us. These investigations are one of the most powerful tools the animal protection movement has. We may prefer to look away, but we also need to help others understand what is going on in factory farms. If you can stand to watch it, please do. As activists we need to be able to speak with clarity and understanding about the horrors these millions of animals face.
I also want to point out how Iowa Select has responded to this footage. Of course they called the animal handling in the video “unacceptable.” But it didn’t stop there. Their staff veterinarian actually tried to turn the MFA investigator into the bad guy, saying that he was “deeply troubled that someone would videotape what they believe is animal abuse if they had a chance to report it and stop it.” What a joke. Much of the footage documents practices that are literally built into their operation (gestation crates). Even if the workers were rogue sadists breaking every company rule (they’re not- they are just doing their job), the company has an entire system that very clearly neglects any regard for animal well-being. When it is an industry standard to put sows in extreme confinement for their entire life, cut off piglet tails and testicles without anesthetic, and repeatedly impregnate mother pigs until their reproductive systems collapse, that industry has lost all credibility for concerns about “humane treatment” and “animal welfare.” How could any worker really believe their employer cares about animals after spending their first five minutes on the job?
How do you feel about the impact this investigation is having? Are you worried the ag gag bills will pass? Do you think MFA is making some real progress?