The international animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) entered Smithfield’s Circle Four Farms in mid-2017 and discovered rotting piglet corpses, sows laying in piles of feces, piglets feeding from bleeding nipples and gestational crates, which Smithfield claimed early this year that it would phase out of practice by the end of 2017. Here are photos DxE took at Circle Four Farms.
What is Smithfield Foods?
Smithfield Foods is the largest supplier of pork in the world. American buyers of Smithfield pork include Costco, Walmart, BJs, Sam’s Club and other major businesses. The corporation has been involved in several malpractice scandals, including a human slavery scandal in 2010. DxE’s videos (caution: video contains graphic images), recorded in the Circle Four Farms factory, revealed that Smithfield has also deceived the public with its public assurances early this year that it would remove gestational crates from all Smithfield facilities. This is not the reality.
What are gestational crates?
Gestational crates are metal cages in which sows (female pigs) live for the majority of their adult lives. The cages measure exactly the length and width of the sow’s body, effectively preventing the animal from laying down, turning around or even shifting from side to side. The sow must defecate where it stands or lays, immobile. Most pork that is sold in the United States has been taken from pigs that spent their entire lives in a single gestational crate.
“Any time we are putting animal welfare into the hands of profit-seeking corporations, horrific scenes like these are the only result we can expect,” said DxE investigator Jon Frohnmayer. “Through heavy lobbying, these companies have ensured that they are immune from any consequences.”
Smithfield was one of the first major cooperations to uitilize the so-called “ag-gag” laws to attack animal rights activists. Ag-gag laws criminalize the act entering and recording the inside of a factory farm. These laws prevent the public from witnessing animal cruelty, working conditions and abuse against workers. Here is a list of states that have passed this kind of legislation. In 2015, four activists stood on the side of the road near Circle Four Farms and photographed the facility. They were charged with a misdemeanor and called to court.
“All of us looked at each other and said, ‘What is this?'” Sarah Jane Hardt, one of the photographers, said. “Interfering with agriculture? None of us knew what it was. When we get back to L.A., that’s when [our lawyer] tells us, ‘That’s ag gag.'”
What is Direct Action Everywhere and what can I do to help?
DxE is an international animal rights initiative whose goal is to expose the corruption of animal agriculture corporations. Its long-term goal is for violence against animals to be banned in the state of California. Some major successes of the group include the banishment of fur making in Berkeley, California.
To help fight cruelty against farm animals, please support your local farmers and refuse to buy meat, milk and eggs from large food corporations. Start conversations about where your food is really coming from.
Photo: pelcinary / Flickr