Mark Bittman has an important blog post today highlighting a new investigation by the Humane Society into abuses of animals at Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer with annual revenues of about $12 billion.
Smithfield's abuses are not new. For years, as Eric Schlosser chronicled in the pages of The Nation in 2006, this mega-agribusiness has used fear and intimidation to keep its workers in check. (As a 2005 Human Rights Watch report noted, their security force has even been charged with beating union members.)
The recent investigation is the latest examination by the HSUS into the operations of the nation's top animal agribusinesses and its revelations are shocking, even for seasoned critics of industrial husbandry. The investigator—who spent a month working undercover inside a Smithfield-owned facility in Waverly, Va.— documented numerous abuses:
The findings are powerfully distilled in this short video. Watch only if you can handle graphic testimony of animal torture. (I tried to embed it here but with no luck!) As you can see, the video shows that Smithfield sows spend their lives under unimaginably crowded, terrribly unhealthy conditions, overseen by incompetent workers who are indifferent to animal suffering.
As Bittman rightly writes, "I'm usually not one to cry "boycott," but...if you're still eating industrially raised pork (or chicken or beef or fish for that matter) - get real. Any industry (and Smithfield is hardly alone, though it does seem to be performing most egregiously) that operates with such infuriating disregard for the welfare of their animals deserves all the trouble we can muster."
Please join the HSUS's call and send Smithfield CEO C. Larry Pope a message imploring him to recommit to the company's promise to stop the use of inhumane gestation crates on Smithfield's factory farms.