In a new video from Mercy for Animals (MFA), Emmy-award winning actor James Cromwell takes a stand for pigs and discusses the horrors inflicted on them at Walmart supplier Pipestone System’s Rosewood Farm in Pipestone, Minn.
“Walmart likes to tout its low prices, but when it comes to the pork sold in its stores, animals are left to pay the highest price of all — a life filled with misery and deprivation,” he explains.
The video was taken by an undercover investigator and includes graphic footage of workers killing piglets by slamming them into the ground, castrating piglets and docking their tails with no painkillers. The violently handled of sows are left sick, injured and suffering without veterinary care.
MFA contends that one of the worst things the farm did was confine sows to lifetimes in gestation crates where they’re unable to even enjoy the simple liberty of turning around. This type of intensive confinement is considered by many to be one of the worst forms of cruelty inflicted on farm animals and it’s one that is suffered by the majority of millions of sows on farms in the U.S.
For pigs, there’s no shortage of evidence to suggest that they are incredibly intelligent, social and sensitive animals with cognitive abilities that can potentially surpass those of three-year-old humans. When provided with a natural environment, they are devoted, protective and nurturing mothers who like to make nests and care for their young. Continuing to keep them in this manner, depriving them of the ability to even move more than a step forward or backward, let alone engage in any natural behaviors, has been proven to cause them both physical pain and psychological stress. Unfortunately, farmers continue to defend the practice.
This case was followed by the usual post-undercover investigation itinerary. Pipestone condemned the cruelty, fired someone, reassigned someone else, will be providing follow-up training for the rest of its workers and wants a pat on the back for getting an independent third-party to audit the farm. The National Pork Producers Council also chimed in to defend the farm, calling the video the “latest attack against America’s hog farmers.”
A spokesperson for Walmart told the Hollywood Reporter that the company will be conducting its own investigation and that they’ve been working on a new auditing and tracking program for pork that is intended to “help ensure that we purchase only from farms that are certified to meet the highest standards for the treatment of animals.”
Unfortunately the standards Walmart strives to support are a huge part of the problem. Most of what’s seen in the video, and others like it, is considered standard industry practice. Whatever is considered a standard can be done on a farm to a farm animal with impunity because they are left without the legal protection afforded to our companion animals. Last July another undercover video shot by MFA at Christensen Farms in Hanska, Minn., showed similar practices to the ones seen in the Pipestone video.
A panel of animal care experts put together by the Center for Food Integrity agreed that aside from the sadistic and brutal way sows were handled, nothing else was amiss. Killing piglets via what the industry refers to as “blunt force trauma” is perfectly within industry guidelines, as is tail docking and slicing piglets open and ripping out their testicles without anesthesia or painkillers. Although they did note that while blunt force trauma is acceptable, workers here were waiting too long to kill piglets. As for gestation crates, those are what the industry wants the public to perceive as cozy little “maternity pens.”
However, ethical concerns have led to gestation crates being banned in the EU and in nine states in the U.S., including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Rhode Island, while a number of major companies have stopped supporting them or are phasing them out.
MFA is urging Walmart to stop supporting this cruelty by joining the list of other companies who have taken a stand against gestation crates, but is also reminding us that the best way to fight the ongoing cruelty to pigs and other farm animals who are left to suffer behind doors the industry wants to keep tightly shut is to simply leave them off of our plates.
For more info on how to help, visit WalmartCruelty.com.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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