Perhaps those undercover video releases from livestock production facilities will end up not being news someday, but for now the industry has to put up with news from the latest release from the Humane Society of the United States. The organization traveled to Wheatland, Wyo., to produce an undercover video at Wyoming Premium Farms, which supplies Tyson. (Editor's Note: after this item was posted Tyson issued a release denying it buys hogs from Wyoming Premium Farms - see their statement at the end of this story).
The graphic video is obviously an undercover product, but adds an intense music score and pushes the HSUS anti-crate agenda. The workers are shown working with the pigs, and some of the scenes show them kicking the animals. It is not an easy video to watch. And they show dead piglets who drowned in manure below the floor slats.
An expert panel has been assembled by the Center of Food Integrity to analyze the video. The Animal Care Review Panel will aim to provide a balanced analysis of this undercover video investigation. The panel will include Dr. Temple Grandin, Colorado State University; Dr. Candace Croney, Purdue University; and Dr. John Deen, University of MInnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. The team will review the latest HSUS video and report on its findings within 48 hours. Results are expected sometime Thursday.
The National Pork Producers Council has responded to this latest release noting that the video shows practices that are "abhorrent to U.S. pork producers." The group says it condemns such actions, "which are not in accord with the U.S. pork industry's best practices that are exemplified in its Pork Quality Assurance Plus program."
The organization says that "providing humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life is one of the ethical principles to which U.S. pork producers adhere." The group also says it understands the farm in question is taking immediate steps to address the situation, including an unannounced inspection of the facility by the farm's consulting veterinarian. "Individuals responsible for willful abuse of animals must be held accountable," the statement says.
Wayne Pacelle, president, HSUS, notes the group has worked to get major food buyers including Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King and more to move away from crate-raised pigs. In his blog released in conjunction with the video, he says: "Why would Tyson Foods buy from a wretched place like this?" He challenges the NPPC's claim that self-regulation works noting that "time and again our investigators are uncovering unspeakable cruelty in a broken system."
In a statement issued late Tuesday, Tyson Foods made the following comment:
"Contrary to the impression left by HSUS, there is no connection between this Wyoming farm and the pork that we process. Tyson Foods does not buy any of the hogs raised on this farm for our pork processing plants.
"We do have a small, but separate hog buying business that buys aged sows, however, these animals as subsequently sold to other companies and are not used in Tyson's pork processing business.
"We've seen the video and we are appalled by the apparent mistreatment of the animals. We do not condone for any reason this kind of mistreatment of animals shown in the video.
"Virtually all the hogs Tyson buys for our processing plants comes from thousands of independ farm families who use both individual and group housing. We require all hog farmers who supply us to be certified in the pork industry's Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which incorporates rigid animal well-being standars and is part of the industry's 'We Care' responsible pork initiative. We validate enrollment and audit conformance to these standards. Farms that do not conform will be eliminated from our supply chain."