Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


22 Charges Filed Based on PETA Investigation at Hormel Supplier

October 23, 2008 - Christine Dore

It's with a proud and ecstatic heart that I report this news today! Our investigation into an Iowa pig farm that breeds piglets destined for Hormel has resulted in 22—that's right, count them—22 criminal charges.

The Greene County Sheriff just announced in a news release that six individuals employed by the farm at the time of PETA's investigation now face a total of 22 counts of livestock neglect and abuse. Those charged include a former farm manager—who we understand still works on another pig factory farm—and a supervisor, as well as two individuals who still punch the clock at the Iowa factory farm as we speak.

A whopping 14 of the counts are aggravated misdemeanors—the stiffest possible charges under Iowa state law for crimes committed against farmed animals—carrying up to two years behind bars. To PETA's knowledge, this is unprecedented.

Charges based on PETA's undercover investigations are now pending against pig factory farmers in both Iowa—the nation's top pig-raising state—and North Carolina, which occupies the second rung on that dubious list!

This is a small victory for farmed animals, but we mustn't forget that Hormel, which financially supports this farm, has by all appearances yet to make any changes as a result of this investigation. It has refused to meet with us or even watch all of the footage, which we have repeatedly offered to show the company. Maybe now that the law has spoken up, Hormel will finally listen.

January 31, 2017 kaaltv.com

Hormel Responds to Allegations of Animal Abuse at Supplier Farm in Oklahoma

(KSTP) - Officials with Minnesota-based Hormel Foods have responded to allegations of animal abuse at an Oklahoma farm that supplies the company.

A video released by nonprofit organization Mercy For Animals of a Maschhoffs sow farm depicts sows suffering from injuries, illnesses and overcrowding in gestation crates, among other scenes of animal abuse, according to the organization.

In response, Hormel officials issued a statement indicating they are aware of the video and have, as a result, "suspended the supplier's Oklahoma sow farms pending (an) investigation." The company issued a statement, which read, in part:

Hormel Foods was made aware of an undercover video taken at a Maschhoffs farm. This farm is a supplier to numerous large food companies, including Hormel Foods. Animal stewardship, including the care and humane treatment of animals, is one of our most important values. Hormel Foods has a strict supplier code of conduct and policies relating to animal care and welfare. We will not tolerate any violation of these policies. As such, we have issued a suspension of all the Maschhoffs, LLC, Oklahoma sow operations while a thorough investigation is completed.

Hormel Foods Corporation has also dispatched certified third-party auditors to these Oklahoma farms and to additional Maschhoffs sites to verify our animal care requirements are being adhered to. We expect, and have been assured, that the Maschhoffs, LLC will cooperate with the investigation.

NOTE: It's not the first time Hormel - a publicly traded company whose brands include Spam, Jennie-O Turkey Store and Wholly Guacamole - has been linked to an undercover video. In November 2015, Quality Pork Processors in Minnesota, which supplies Hormel, disciplined three employees. One was captured on video paddling pigs and two were shown horse playing with what appeared to be a blood clot or blood-soaked paper towel.

Gestation crates have been banned in 10 US states and the entire European Union. More than 60 major food providers — including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Chipotle, Safeway, Kroger, Costco and Kmart — have all demanded that their suppliers do away with them.

Read more: Hallmark convicted of horrendous animal cruelty, Chino, CA; Butterball evil; undercover footage

Toronto Pig Save

Furore in Ohio over cruelty to pigs  

July 28, 2007(Op-ed) Martha Rosenberg, BigNewsNetwork.com

The videotaped hanging of a sow from a skid loader with a logging chain has divided farming communities in Northeast Ohio, hog farmers and veterinarians.

Ken Wiles, owner of the 6,000-animal Wiles hog farm near Creston where the incident occurred last year says he's been "euthanizing" hogs this way for 40 years.

In a trial last month in Wayne County in which he and Dusty Stroud, a hog farm employee, were found not guilty on all cruelty charges brought--son, Joe Wiles, was found guilty of improperly handling piglets and fined $250--Wiles told veterinarian Donald Sander it's the way Utah executes criminals.

But viewers of the video--portions of which were shown on at least one Cleveland-area television station multiple times--saw a convulsing animal suffering for a full five minutes in the kind of agony euthanasia is supposed to stop, not cause.

The Wiles hog farm was raided in November on the basis of undercover footage shot over more than a year by John Knoldt, (a.k.a. Chris Parrett) an investigator for the Humane Farming Association who gained employment at Wiles hog farm after being tipped off to abuses by Ingrid DiMarino, a farm employee.

Also documented by the nonprofit CA-based advocacy group were hogs falling through broken floor slats into manure pits, being buried alive and killed with hammers and piglets slaughtered by having their heads bashed against the wall.

Ohio State University veterinarian Donald Sanders who attended the raid and testified for the prosecution called hanging sows "abhorrent" as did the Ohio Pork Producers Council.

But swine veterinarian Paul Armbrecht testifying for the defense said hanging was a "practical method to euthanize an animal."

Of course the public is growing used to exposes of factory farming taped by undercover employees by now--replete with dead piles, sadistic mutilation and neglect. Employees at poultry processor House of Raeford in North Carolina which supplies Arby's and Denny's were recently filmed shoving their fists into birds' cavities to remove eggs which they threw at each other. And laying hens were filmed impaled on battery cage wires at Esbenshade Farms in Mt. Joy, PA--events which Judge Jayne F. Duncan ruled not cruelty in June.

Factory farm operators typically dispute the findings--why weren't the violations present when inspectors were there?--try to find bad apples and vow to sin no more, all the while watching their stock price.

But others, like House of Raeford, Esbenshade Farms and Tyson Foods swiftboat the humane investigators demanding to know why they didn't stop the cruelty if it was so bad and implying that they staged or even caused the documented incidents.

Ken Wiles actually blamed the animals' deprivation of food and water and the floors and crates caked with urine and fecal material that he is charged with on the 10 hours his farm was locked down during the raid. He also says investigator John Knoldt was trying to "kill him and his family.)" But how do you defend a hanging?

Well, the alternative, shooting could be dangerous Earl Miller, a dairy farmer from Dalton, told the Wooster Daily Record at Wiles' acquittal--because of the "cement inside the barns" and the risk of bullets ricocheting. And even if bullets are more humane, "No one likes to hear guns firing 20 times each day," posts Mary on the Daily Record's Web site.

Besides, the employees on the Wiles hog farm COULDN'T shoot the animals confesses Ken Wiles--suddenly law abiding--because they are convicted felons and are not allowed to use weapons! But even these answers don't explain why workers actually taunted the animals while they were struggling and thought the whole sequence funny.

"One of them goes around and grabs the hog as it's hanging there and hugs it" to mock an upset employee who was watching says Bob Baker, who filmed the event. "These poor animals are hanging there suffocating."

Euthanasia means mercy killing but animals need mercy from these "farmers." 

Comment:  Although the criminal trial is over, there is now civil litigation regarding Wiles Farm. Humane Farming Association (HFA) is also pressing against sanctions against Dr. Armbrecht and the removal of Judge Miller from the bench.

Update:  A documentary premiers on March 16, 2009, on HBO, titled 'Death on a Factory Farm.’ It covers the undercover investigation of horrifying abuse at Wiles pig farm and the resulting animal cruelty case. There is a television review, by Mike Hale, titled "How These Piggies Went to Market." It opens with: "It's not something you see every day: a large sow hanging by its neck from a forklift, kicking and swinging through the air until it's dead.”

That scene is the central image in both the HBO documentary 'Death on a Factory Farm' and the court case that it chronicles. The fact that these things don't upset everyone is the crux of the film, representing the American cultural divide.

Read more: The Pig Farmer - leaving behind "wrong" life; Hog Wild; corporate influence; suppliers