Video footage from the Humane Society of the United States’ recent undercover investigation of animal abuse, cruelty, and torture at a Wyoming Premium Farms facility in Wheatland, Wyoming, has me mining the depths of depression and restraining impulses fueled by unabated rage. The following is an open letter to Doug DeRouchey, general manager, Wyoming Premium Farms; Mamoru Horio, president, Itoham Foods; Jack Mori, board chairman, Itoham America; Donnie Smith, president and chief executive officer, Tyson Foods; James Lochner, chief operating officer, Tyson Foods; and John Tyson, board chairman, Tyson Foods.
Messrs. DeRouchey, Horio, Mori, Smith, Lochner, and Tyson:
I can’t get the sound of a screaming sow out of my head, and frankly, it’s driving me to madness. Part of me, though, doesn’t want the screaming to stop. Like a concentration camp or plantation soundtrack, it’s something those among us with a conscience need to hear to understand that factory farming perpetuates the darkest evils of the Holocaust and the slave trade.
The images captured by the Humane Society during its undercover investigation at Wyoming Premium Farms is all the evidence many of us need — as if we needed more — that our so-called “developed” nations are populated by two subspecies of Homo sapiens: those who seek financial or spiritual reward through the brutal exploitation, torture, and murder of other species, and those who rail against the same.
The Humane Society’s report, Undercover at a Tyson Supplier: A Humane Society of the United States Investigation, describes horrors that many don’t think (“don’t think” being the operative words) are perpetrated beyond the faraway genocides they hear about in passing. The Humane Society’s findings, though, don’t surprise you, do they? How could they? You are, after all, in the killing business.
I’ll bet you watched the video footage from the Humane Society’s investigation while snacking on fresh bacon. And I think it’s safe to say that the only thing that bothers you about the video footage is that it was made public. A “public-relations disaster” is what greed-heads like you call this sort of thing, isn’t it?
Mr. DeRouchey was quoted in a KUSA report as saying, “We will not tolerate abuse. It’s just, not tolerable. And we’ve had isolated incidents in the past — and we’ve terminated the people.”
The Humane Society’s video footage documents nothing less than a culture of abuse, which Mr. DeRouchey prefers to describe as “isolated incidents,” involving several employees during the month of April 2012.
“There’s probably possible major abuse, and that’s a termination,” DeRouchey told KUSA, which reported that DeRouchey “says he can’t guarantee everybody in the video will be fired. He says an investigation is underway to figure out what exactly happened.”
“I just can’t jump on what I’ve seen on 4 minutes on a video. I wasn’t there,” DeRouchey explained to KUSA reporters.
Well, Mr. DeRouchey, I can “jump on what I’ve seen on four minutes on a video,” and “I wasn’t there” either.
Tyson Foods’ “response” to the Humane Society’s investigation matter-of-factly indicates that “contrary to the impression left by HSUS, there is no connection between this Wyoming farm and the pork that we process. Tyson Foods does not buy any of the hogs raised on this farm for our pork processing plants. We do have a small, but separate hog buying business that has previously purchased aged sows from this farm; however, these animals are subsequently sold to other companies and are not used in Tyson’s pork processing business. The subsidiary has discontinued buying sows from the farm shown in the video.”
So much for “no connection,” eh? Tyson Foods’ “response” is, in fact, very much a confirmation of the company’s “connection” to Wyoming Premium Farms.
Messrs. Smith, Lochner, and Tyson would like us to appreciate their company’s “position point” on “animal well-being,” which is that “Tyson Foods has long been committed to animal well-being and has had formal programs in place for some time. We believe proper animal handling is an important moral and ethical obligation we owe to our suppliers, customers, ourselves and, most of all, to the animals we depend on for our products and our livelihood. … Animal well-being is part of Tyson’s Core Values, which call on the company’s Team Members to ‘serve as stewards of the animals, land and environment entrusted to us.’”
The problem with this “position,” Messrs. Smith, Lochner, and Tyson, is that one cannot be in the business of slaughtering animals while claiming to be “committed” to their “well-being.”
But this is not news to you, is it? Nor is it news to Mr. DeRouchey or his superiors at Itoham Foods, whose U.S. subsidiary, Itoham America, conveniently “filed an article of dissolution with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office” on April 6, according to the KUSA report — and whose 2010 annual report boasted the insulting headline Full of Smiles.
Well, gentlemen, the pigs in the Humane Society’s video are not smiling. They’re screaming in pain.
And I’m not smiling either, nor are many others who feel empathy for the animals for whom you feel nothing.
An msnbc.com report indicates that “Steve Keigley, sheriff for Platte County, where the farm is located, told msnbc.com that an investigation is under way and being led by the livestock board. The Humane Society provided ‘quite a bit of documentation,’ he said, adding that any charges would probably amount to a ‘high misdemeanor’ with a maximum of several months in county jail and a fine.”
I think that you, Messrs. DeRouchey, Horio, Mori, Smith, Lochner, and Tyson, should each be sentenced to “several months” in a gestation crate. And I think the subhumans at Wyoming Premium Farms whom the Humane Society filmed brutalizing terrified and long-suffering sows and piglets should be treated the very same way and fed, upon their deaths, to pigs liberated from your factory farms.
The Monday Maul cartoon was created for The Daily Maul by New York-based artist Vin Paneccasio.