53,000 People Swear Off Cargill Turkey After String of Truck Crashes

PETA Urges Company to Work With North Carolina Partner to Ensure Birds’ Safety on the Road in Wake of Latest Wreck

For Immediate Release:
March 18, 2019

Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382

Wayzata, Minn.

Notorious turkey supplier Circle S Ranch has come under fire after a series of transport-truck crashes in southern Virginia—including one just this past January—prompting PETA to send a letter this morning urging the Wayzata-based meat company Cargill, Inc., which slaughters Circle S turkeys, to demand an overhauled crash-prevention plan and a response plan in case of future wrecks. The letter includes the signatures of more than 52,000 people who are horrified that the suffering of birds being carted to be slaughtered is prolonged and exacerbated by these crashes—and who have pledged to swear off Cargill turkey “products,” demanding that the company take action to keep birds from dying violently on the side of the road.

“Kind people are rightly appalled that hundreds of gentle birds have died slowly and painfully on the side of the road as a result of these preventable wrecks,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling on Cargill and Circle S to demonstrate a modicum of concern for animal welfare by working together to develop a robust transport safety protocol.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, which is a supremacist worldview. The group notes that Circle S tractor trailers hauling live turkeys to the slaughterhouse crashed at least three times between 2012 and 2017 in one Virginia county alone—and each time, response teams took more than four hours to arrive on the scene, during which turkeys lay injured and dying.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Cargill, Inc., Senior Vice President Brian Sikes follows.

March 18, 2019

Brian Sikes

Senior Vice President, Global Protein and Salt

Cargill, Inc.

Dear Mr. Sikes,

I hope this letter finds you well. In January, a driver hauling turkeys through Henry County, Virginia, for longtime Cargill partner Circle S Ranch, Inc., ran off U.S. Rt. 220 and overturned his truck. Attached are the names of more than 53,000 individuals who have vowed never again to buy turkey from Cargill, in light of Circle S’ egregious history of similar transport wrecks—typically, while en route to your Dayton, Virginia, turkey slaughterhouse—and in honor of the thousands of birds who have suffered and died in them. We respectfully ask that Cargill diligently work with Circle S to help your partner prevent these incidents and all the unnecessary pain and suffering that they cause.

Tractor-trailers hauling live turkeys for Circle S crashed at least three prior times on Rt. 220 between June 2012 and February 2017. Circle S’ teams didn’t arrive until more than four hours after each wreck occurred. Eyewitnesses reported that turkeys with serious injuries weren’t relieved of their suffering on-site. After the 2012 crash, approximately 540 turkeys slowly suffered and died from apparent heat-related stress. The driver responsible for the crash in 2013 had previously been convicted of driving while impaired and other violations.

For nearly seven years, thousands of kind people have urged Circle S to improve its crash prevention and response plan. Thanks to the intervention of a Virginia Commonwealth’s attorney and a Virginia State Police trooper, Circle S vowed in late 2017 to improve the training of its staff who respond to crashes. Despite this, Circle S crashed yet another truck in January—and rejected a commonsense proposal to replace the current route for trucks bound for your Dayton slaughterhouse with a faster, more fuel-efficient one that bypasses the highway where its trucks have tipped over a minimum of four times.

Cargill surely shares our desire to see these crashes end. Please, begin working with Circle S to prevent and effectively respond to these incidents, lest consumers keep associating these gruesome but preventable scenes with Cargill, Honeysuckle White, and Shady Brook Farms. Thank you.


Daniel Paden

Director of Evidence Analysis

cc: Michael Martin, Director of Communications, Cargill, Inc.

April Nelson, Global Media Lead, Cargill, Inc.

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