USA - Spam makers under fire over sows

23 Feb 2012

An animal rights organization released a video Wednesday documenting the conditions for pigs at a farm in northern Iowa.
Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing, presented the video documenting the conditions at a news conference at the Renaissance Savery Hotel in Des Moines. The video came from Leland-based Hawkeye Sow Centers, a producer for Hormel Foods, she said.
Compassion Over Killing, based in Washington, D.C., advocates for vegetarian eating and regularly conducts undercover investigations at factory farms throughout the U.S.
An investigator for the organization filmed the video while working at the farm in December. Meier said the person was at the farm for three weeks after he applied for a job to work there.
Meier cited a bill currently proposed in the Iowa Legislature that would make such investigations illegal. The bill passed in the House last year but stalled in the Senate.
Meier also highlighted Hormel’s recent decision to phase out “gestation crates” in its own facilities. However, the announcement did not include its suppliers, Meier said, which she urged the company to do.
McDonald’s announced this week it will phase out the use of gestation crates among its pork producers. The European Union already bans the practice, she said, as do eight U.S. states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Ohio and Oregon.
The video documents conditions in the farm, such as castrating piglets without anesthesia, pregnant and nursing pigs in crates too small to turn around, herniated intestines as a result of poorly performed castrations and a description of “gruel” which includes ground up intestines from dead piglets the farm then feeds to its pigs.
“Nothing in this video is out of the ordinary for pig factories here in Iowa or across the country,” Meier said.
Meier advocated for people to adopt a plant-based diet, but also said there are steps the industry can take to discontinue the “worst abuses to minimize these animals’ suffering.”
Castrations are done on almost all male pigs and typically done without anesthesia.
Last summer, a similar group aired a complaint about castrations. At the time, an Iowa Pork Producers Association representative said there weren’t enough licensed veterinarians in Iowa to do the procedure with anesthesia.
Iowa is the nation’s largest hog state, annually producing about 34 million hogs. About 70 percent of Iowa’s hogs live their five months of life before slaughter in enclosed barns. Hog sales bring about $5 billion to Iowa annually in cash receipts.
Hawkeye Sow Centers released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying the video appears to depict accepted and routine production processes, but also pledging to investigate further…
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Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.

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