I wanted to share with you the content of two back-to-back email messages I received. The first is from Matthew Prescott who keeps me updated on the successes of the folks at HSUS. The second is from Meatingplace.com and it shows what happens every time HSUS is successful in its pursuit of animal abusers.
Prescott wrote, "Hi there. As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, yet another video was released in which Tyson Foods contract workers are seen just blatantly beating up pigs. You can view the video here. This is some of the most shocking footage I’ve seen, and I’d welcome your thoughts on it. Additionally, as you may recall:
- Just three weeks ago, another disturbing video showed a Tyson supplier abusing animals on tape.
- Last year, after an investigation at a Tyson supplier in Wyoming, several workers who were caught abusing animals were charged and convicted of criminal animal cruelty. "
Meatingplace.com editor Tom Johnston reported, "Tyson Foods announced it has terminated immediately its contract with an Oklahoma farm whose employees were caught on videotape abusing pigs.
The video was captured secretly and published by Mercy for Animals at West Coast Farms in Okfuskee County, Okla. It shows employees kicking, throwing, hitting and slamming pigs on the ground. Footage even shows an employee throwing a bowling ball at a pig.
(To learn more about Mercy for Animals, click here to read an interview with Nathan Runkle, their executive director.)
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said in a statement the company is severing ties with West Coast Farms and taking possession of the animals remaining on the farm
“We’re extremely disappointed by the mistreatment shown in the video and will not tolerate this kind of animal mishandling,” he said.
I hope everyone in animal agriculture sees an unmistakable cause and effect here. Abuse an animal, lose your business. Abuse an animal, lose your right to even be in the business. Even without the ever present specter of groups like Mercy for Animals or HSUS lurking about and protection by those absurd and useless laws designed to protect farmers from unauthorized videotaping, there is no damn excuse for this.
Let me preach this one more time: if your raise any kind of animal for Tyson or any other food processing company, conduct your business as if Temple Grandin and representatives from MFA and HSUS are walking your fields and inspecting your barns 24/7. Rigorously train your employees on proper animal handling procedures and check up on them regularly - meaning every single day. At the first hint of abuse by any employee, you must immediately retrain or fire, no exceptions.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chuck Jolley, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.