The world’s largest pork producer has been implicated in the Humane Society of the United States’ most recent undercover investigation (ABC News).
Murphy-Brown, the livestock production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, owns approximately 888,000 sows and brings a total of 17 million pigs to slaughter annually. According to the HSUS executive summary, “[T]he company owns 450 factory farms across 12 states, 275 of which are used for breeding.”
Murphy-Brown is also the subject of a horrific, hidden-cam video taken during the HSUS investigation. This is the third major HSUS investigation of an industrial-scale, corporate-licensed CAFO in 2010 (the other two being Cal-Maine and Wilmar Poultry). The Murphy-Brown/Smithfield video involves stomach-wrenching images of workers abusing sows and piglets — as usual, this video is not for the weak-hearted.
I feel sick saying “as usual” in reference to yet another undercover animal abuse video. Perhaps if we had meaningful industry oversight or actual government regulation (it is too laugh — or maybe cry), U.S. customers would be surprised and shocked when these videos surfaced. Or maybe these videos wouldn’t be necessary in the first place. Instead, it just adds to the nauseating blur that is our industrial food system.
Cynicism aside, I’ll give Smithfield credit for one thing in their response to the HSUS findings. Rather than clamming up and pretending nothing happened at Murphy-Brown, noted animal welfare expert Temple Grandin is helping Smithfield investigate the operation in question. Grandin is one of the bright spots in the livestock world, an expert who carries credibility from both captains of ag industry and sustainable food advocates alike. An encouraging move.
If you watched the HSUS video, then you probably need a dose of sanity and hope. Here’s Temple Grandin delivering her TED Talk. Love this woman.