Written by Michelle Kretzer
Smithfield Foods, Inc., the world's largest pig supplier, announced yesterday that
it will phase out
gestation crates for pregnant sows by
2017. Let's hope it keeps its word this time. Smithfield has promised this
Female pigs at Smithfield are forced
into continuous cycles of pregnancy and birth, only to have their piglets
ripped away from them within weeks. The pregnant pigs are confined to metal-barred gestation crates so small that they are
2007, Smithfield agreed to
phase out the crates in 10 years. The decision
followed pressure from animal advocates, including PETA's public protests,
meetings with Smithfield executives, and a shareholder resolution to ban the
crates. But after two years, the company dropped the plan, citing economic woes.
month, PETA launched a "hashtag hijack," flooding a Smithfield
Twitter event with tweets from supporters demanding the end of gestation
crates. Smithfield has now agreed but has given itself another five years to
comply and said the ban would apply only to farms owned by the company, not its
many contract farms.
company that earned record profits last year off the misery of pigs could start today to
end one of its worst abuses. And it should require its contract farmers to do
the same. Hopefully, Smithfield won't renege again and will listen to our calls
to ban all gestation crates. Animal
advocates can continue to cut into the company's profit margins by refusing to eat Smithfield
products—or any pigs.
Written by PETA
195 live pigs were
hurled to the ground—killing or
leaving at least 47 so
badly injured that even industry workers knew that they had to be killed—after
ran off the road, flipped onto its side, and crashed into a pole in Suffolk,
Virginia, early this morning. This crash, which
happened on a clear day on a relatively straight road, is at least the ninth
involving pigs who were being transported
to a Smithfield Foods slaughterhouse in southeastern Virginia since 2004.
The pork industry's shameful history of hiring reckless drivers
has left the mangled remains of countless pigs on Virginia highways and
jeopardized the safety of other motorists. The driver cited for
reckless driving in this crash, William Orville Barnett, allegedly violated
federal transportation safety laws twice last year. Also
last year, a driver hauling 80 pigs
for Smithfield Foods subsidiary Murphy-Brown, LLC, crashed in Chesterfield
County, Virginia, killing more than 45 of the pigs. The driver—who was charged
with reckless driving and failure to maintain control—had three months earlier crashed a
in North Carolina while hauling 46 cows. Virginia court records indicate that
the driver had been previously cited for failure to obey a traffic signal and
speeding. In spite of all this, Murphy-Brown put him behind the wheel to drive pigs
hundreds of miles across the country.
Despite the pork industry's attempts to hide the aftermath of
these horrific crashes by putting up tarps and even asking police officers to
make PETA investigators in public areas put away their cameras, PETA has
captured extensive video
footage of workers as they abuse, cruelly kill, and leave
injured pigs to suffer after wrecks. Only three years ago—on the very road on
which today's crash occurred—workers pulled terrified 270-pound animals by their sensitive ears
and slapped and hit them in the face with
tools that even the pork industry says should never be used to hit animals.
PETA has also documented that workers at crash sites reloaded debilitated and severely injured
pigs—including those whose internal organs were protruding from their
anuses—for transport and left immobile
pigs to suffer and be trampled for hours before repeatedly driving steel bolts into their
in botched attempts to kill them.
The pork industry desperately needs to enact and enforce a zero-tolerance
safe-driver policy—for everyone's
sake—but the best way to protect pigs
and other animals from suffering in accidents as well as on factory farms and
in slaughterhouses is by leaving
them off our plates.
The meat industry thrives on the abuse of animals,
so it comes as no surprise that former pig factory-farm workers are alleging
that the management of Murphy-Brown—a subsidiary of the
world's largest pig producer, Smithfield Foods—turned a blind eye to sexual
harassment of female employees.
In a case that went before a federal jury this week,
one woman claims that female staff were groped by male coworkers, were spied on
in the shower via peepholes, and had their underwear stolen from their lockers.
The harassment allegedly went on for years despite complaints to supervisors. It is worth
noting that the men accused of the harassment—said to include putting what is
suspected to be semen on women's underwear—worked at a breeding farm where sows
were artificially inseminated, which is typically done by men armed with bags
of boar semen and tubes that they shove into pigs' reproductive tracts.
Unfortunately, PETA investigations show that failure
to discipline workers for sexual abuse seems to be standard policy at many factory farms, particularly when the
victims are animals.
Our investigators have recorded many
incidents of sexual abuse of animals, including a Hormel Foods Corp. supplier's
farm supervisor who rammed a cane into a pig's vagina; an Aviagen Turkeys, Inc.,
employee who pinned a female turkey to the ground and mimicked raping her; and a
Butterball employee who repeatedly shoved a finger into a turkey's cloaca. After
the footage was released, six of the Hormel supplier's workers
admitted guilt to charges of livestock abuse and neglect, and three Aviagen employees
were convicted after facing the first-ever felony indictments for cruelty to
farmed birds by factory-farm workers in the U.S.
You can avoid supporting the sexual abuse of both
animals and humans by choosing a vegan
diet—and urging everyone you know to do the same.
by Heather Faraid Drennan
Being shipped over great distances to slaughter with no food or water is agonizing enough, but a reckless driver recently overturned a transport truck carrying 235 pigs, killing 74 of them outright and leaving seven others so severely mangled that police and workers killed them on-site to put them out of their misery. Many pigs suffered terrible injuries and trauma when they were thrown onto an expressway near Toronto. PETA has sent a letter asking Ontario authorities to further investigate and, if the evident warrants, charge the driver—who was allegedly speeding when he lost control of the truck—with cruelty to animals in addition to reckless driving, the existing charge. The pork industry's careless drivers must be held accountable for the suffering and horrific deaths that they cause. Please read about our earlier cases with Smithfield Foods truck accidents.
In the meantime, you can help save other pigs from a horrible fate by urging everyone you know not to eat these sensitive, intelligent animals.
Written by Heather Moore
Smithfield execs, who live high off the hog—actually, it's more like about 27 million hogs—have just decided that they cannot keep their promise to phase out gestation crates over the next 10 years.
Smithfield states, "Due to recent significant operating losses incurred by our Hog Production segment, we have delayed capital expenditures for the program such that we no longer expect to complete the phase-out within ten years of the original announcement."
These gestation crates that Smithfield is dragging its feet on phasing out are called "iron maidens" after medieval torture devices, and for good reason—sows kept in them cannot turn around, and their muscles atrophy. Over time, pigs kept in these horrid conditions develop sores from lying on filthy concrete and go insane from the confinement.
Consider that just three years' compensation for Smithfield's directors would more than cover the cost of a complete crate phase-out. Smithfield's claim that it can't spare pennies a pig to improve these animals' living conditions makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like a philanthropist and erodes any trust the company hopes to build with its consumers or with PETA.
Once again, animal welfare has taken a backseat to corporate profit. Smithfield can rest assured that we'll be at its annual meeting this August, making sure that pigs are heard.
Written by Karin Bennett
Ah, the plot thickens. Smithfield—the same folks who sent a memo to employees a couple of weeks ago claiming that the swine flu outbreak isn't connected to pigs—has been sued by the family of Judy Trunnell, the first U.S. resident to die of the disease.
In that same "spin in haste, repent at leisure" memo, Smithfield claimed that "there is no evidence that any of the people affected had contact with pigs." But, as we reported last month, several news reports indicate that La Gloria—a Mexican village near the enormous Smithfield-owned Granjas Carroll factory pig farm—is home to the first confirmed case of swine flu and may have been ground zero for the outbreak. Apparently, the family of Judy Trunnell—who was a pregnant special education teacher in San Antonio, Texas—has seen those reports too.
To get an idea of just how foul and disgusting Smithfield's Granjas Carroll factory farm is, check out these photos, which were reportedly taken there.
Right now, we still don't know for sure where the swine flu outbreak originated or how it spread. Hopefully, this lawsuit will shed some light on that.
Written by Alisa Mullins
You might remember when we broke the news back in December about our undercover investigation at a pig farm in Garland, North Carolina, owned by Murphy Family Ventures, which supplies pig meat to Smithfield Foods. Murphy Family Ventures workers were documented cutting off piglets' tails and pulling out piglets' testicles without any pain relief, among other abuses. You might also remember that at least one employee at the pig farm was fired in response to our investigation. Well, this story just keeps on progressing in the right direction—and that's the way we like it!
Thanks to PETA's undercover work and follow-up, criminal charges have been filed against one of the workers employed by the farm during the undercover investigation.
That worker faces six misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals for actions documented by PETA's investigator, including dragging pigs by the ear, striking a pig in the face with a handling board, and poking a pig in the eyes with his fingers. If he returns to North Carolina from out-of-state, a second worker will face one count of cruelty to animals for also dragging a pig by the ear. FoxNews.com has a great article with more details on the investigation, and you can view footage from the investigation below.
I have to say, it's great to see that the officials who are presiding over the case are taking this one seriously—as seriously, in fact, as they would a case that involved a sadistically tortured dog or cat. And rightfully so: Just like dogs and cats, pigs have the ability to feel pain. And if someone just happened to say that a pig is smarter than a dog or a three-year-old child, well, he or she would be right.
It's about time that these pigs—whose suffering and misery PETA has caught on film—finally get some justice. This case sends a message loud and clear to factory farms and slaughterhouses that cruelty to farmed animals will not be tolerated and that violations of animal welfare laws will have consequences such as, oh, say—a court date.
Posted by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Today has been kind of massive as far as animals are concerned. In addition to winning the POM Campaign, we just got news that Smithfield Foods (the largest pork processor in the world) will begin phasing out the use of gestation crates in all of its farms. Gestation crates are among the most hideous torture devices employed by the meat industry, and while we'd love to see them banned, like, yesterday, this commitment on Smithfield's part is still a great step forward on an issue that we've put years of hard work into—pushing McDonald's, Safeway, Albertson's, WalMart, and others to oppose gestation crates, and speaking at Smithfield's annual meeting to raise awareness among shareholders. The Wall Street Journal covered the story today, and MSNBC ran a great piece as well, with an accompanying photograph that says more than I ever could about exactly why so many animal advocates have dedicated their lives to getting this practice outlawed:
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.