If Animals 'Suffer,' Why Wait?

Northstar Notes

Undercover animal rightists seek to end animal food production - not protect animals from 'harm.'

Published on: November 4, 2013

An animal rights group released another spliced-together video about alleged animal abuse.

The most recent one showed video from a Pipestone System hog barn, unveiled at an Oct. 29 press conference. An undercover employee reportedly shot hidden-camera video in August and September while working at the farm over a 10-week period.

The video shows a worker euthanizing runts by using blunt force trauma, piglets getting castrated and having their tails removed, and sows confined in gestation crates.

All practices are commonly used husbandry practices in hog barns across the U.S.

The video, spliced together by Mercy for Animals, takes Wal-Mart to task for not cutting off pork producers such as Pipestone. Its website features an email letter that people can fill out and forward to the company. MFA has been leaning on Wal-Mart for some time to change its position on confinement pork production. The company held firm last summer when Christensen Farms was in MFA's crosshairs.

This time around, the MFA undercover employee reported the alleged abuse to the Pipestone County Sheriff's Office. In a Pipestone System press release, the company said:

"The Pipestone System has recently cooperated with the Pipestone County Sheriff's Office in response to a complaint of animal mistreatment by a former employee. The complaint was lodged by Jessica Marie Buck, a former Pipestone System employee, who we believe to be an undercover activist with the Mercy for Animals organization. It's our understanding that the Pipestone County Prosecutor has determined not to bring any charges against any of the employees on the farm at this time.

"The Pipestone System does not condone any type of willful animal abuse. The Pipestone System immediately conducted an internal investigation of alleged mistreatment and discovered certain violations of its Animal Welfare Policy that resulted in the immediate termination of one employee, reassignment of another and follow-up training of the remaining employees. The Pipestone System also requested and underwent an immediate third party external audit of the operations at this farm.

"All Pipestone System employees receive extensive, consistent animal welfare training which requires each employee to sign on to a commitment to immediately report any suspected abuse or mistreatment. Ms. Buck signed on to this pledge, specifically committing to report any animal welfare issues or concerns she witnessed. Unfortunately, no report of abuse or mistreatment from Ms. Buck was ever reported. Ms. Buck's own actions while on the sow farm clearly violated our animal welfare policy."

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MFA's modus operandi is to end all food animal production as we know it. Check out its website. It's an activist vegetarian organization. It professes concern about animal suffering yet when MFA "discovers" it, MFA sits on the undercover video. It takes a few months to splice the footage together and to line up a spokesman to sell its version of the story. Then the organization holds a press conference to denounce what it "saw."

This is not news, folks.

All of it is suspect. The undercover employee who signed a contract to report any animal abuse she would witness on the farm. The employee who was committing the "crime." Any chance this person may have been singled out by the undercover employee and encouraged or coached into demonstrating mean or careless animal care? I'm not saying that all farm workers are all angels. Far from it. There are times when livestock workers take out their frustrations on animals. Those times are the exceptions, not the rule.

So gradually, video of this farm, video of that farm, animal rightists hope to offend and influence consumers, who in turn will pressure food companies, to stop buying from confinement farms.

The farm owners unfortunately falling under MFA's magnifying glass have endured painful attacks on their character and business management practices. As tough as those times have been, they regrouped and fine-tuned their employee training and management, and evaluated routine animal husbandry practices. Sometimes changes took place, sometimes not.

One thing is certain: Consumer education about animal agriculture will be an ongoing effort.

Bacon, anyone?