Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) volunteer animal advocates recently entered a factory farm in Utah owned by Smithfield Foods, a company that supplies the remains of dead pigs to retailers like Costco. During the visit, the activists filmed the abusive and heartbreaking conditions farm animals experience. In the process of filming, they rescued two piglets that DxE founder Wayne Hsiung stated were drinking their mother’s blood, surrounded by rotting corpses, and suffering from infected wounds.
On Smithfield’s website, it states the company is “committed to keeping animals safe, comfortable, and healthy.” Watch this video and decide for yourself if the conditions at Smithfield fit any reasonable definition of “safe, comfortable, and healthy.”
If oppressive conditions are instead exposed, as was the case with the DxE video, any corporate leadership with integrity would accept responsibility, apologize, and take steps to improve conditions. Instead, Smithfield sent FBI agents after the animal advocates who exposed their gruesome facade.
The FBI accused DxE of terrorism and allocated resources to search for the rescued piglets. Agents raided two farm sanctuaries and extracted DNA from rescued pigs. One witness stated that the agents cut a chunk of a rescued pig’s ear off for a DNA sample leaving the pig squealing in agony and onlookers devastated and crying.
I contacted a state agency that specializes in the extraction of “Swine DNA for 4-H Programs” to learn more about the pig DNA collection process. The representative told me that pig DNA is collected and tested by extracted strands of hair from a pig that should not cause pain and that it would not be necessary to cut off a pig’s ear. Thus, if the alleged incident is accurate, the sanctuary owners should consider speaking with state officials to determine if the FBI agents violated any state cruelty to animals statutes.
The FBI should give up on this transparent charade and focus on prosecuting the real criminals: The owners Smithfield Foods who allow the brutal abuse and neglect of farm animals to pervade their factories.
According to Smithfield Foods 2016 Annual Report, the company earned $14 billion in 2016. The cost of losing two piglets won’t affect their profits; it’s the public relations fiasco they fear. Ironically, by pursuing the piglets, they further expose themselves as the hunt draws even more media attention. The animal agriculture industry learned this reality the hard way in Utah during their push to enforce their so-called Ag-Gag law.
It’s unknown where the FBI stands in their search for the rescued piglets or whether they will charge DxE rescuers with terrorism under the AETA, a law passed to conceal the horrors of industries that exploit, torture, and butcher animals. But I agree with the FBI that the DxE animal advocates belong in prison — as volunteer guest speakers.
I spent a few years volunteering in correctional facilities and many more years working in them to empower inmates to be productive citizens and to reduce recidivism to make our communities safer. Inmates often express their discontent with the justice system, the pain of incarceration, and the abuse they’ve suffered in their lives. They would likely relate to the plight of innocent farm animals. By sharing the animals’ stories of deprivation, loss of freedom, fear, and abuse, inmates may develop empathy for the suffering farm animals endure.
As volunteers in correctional facilities, DxE activists could provide powerful testimonials from their undercover investigations that may teach inmates to show the same compassion for animals they wish for themselves. In terms of charging DxE rescuers with terrorism and imprisoning them for saving lives? That’s typical government overreach. The AETA should be reversed: Smithfield Foods should be charged with terrorism against animals.
The DxE team deserves credit for exposing the horrific conditions in animal agriculture. Smithfield Foods should be condemned and held accountable. The American government isn’t likely to change because they’re owned by corporate lobbyists who fund their campaigns; therefore, it’s up to you — the consumer — to refuse to support this industry and instead choose plant-based food that doesn’t inflict harm on animals and prosecute people for compassion. Don’t allow the federal government to arrest your ability to think critically. Get started today.