|Updated: 5/08/2012 5:33 pm
||Published: 5/08/2012 3:38 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - According to the Humane Society of the United States, video footage obtained during an undercover investigation at Wyoming Premium Farms in Wheatland, Wyoming, shows extensive animal abuse. The Humane Society claims Wyoming Premium Farms is a Tyson Foods pork supplier.
"The video speaks for itself," said Josh Balk at a Humane Society press conference held in Little Rock. "People were beating pigs, they were throwing pigs, they were kicking pigs."
In addition to animal cruelty, the Humane Society alleges that the Wyoming farm breeds sows in gestation crates, only slightly larger than the sows themselves, for up to four years at a time.
"In other words," said Balk, "as long as students go to high school, these pigs can't even turn around."
Some states, like Florida, Arizona and California, have banned gestation crates, but not Wyoming.
Tyson Foods sent us this statement, saying in part -- "we are appalled by the apparent mistreatment of the animals." Later, a company spokesman told Fox16 a company that Tyson owns "has purchased hogs from the farm. We will not purchase sows from this farm until we've had a chance to investigate."
Wyoming Premium Farms also released a statement, saying in part -- they're conducting their own investigation and "are committed to the well-being of all our animals and to the safety of our workers."
As for the Humane Society, they dispute Tyson's claim, saying Tyson does buy pigs from Wyoming Premium Farms -- but through a broker.
Said Balk, "any person should be appalled when they see this level of cruelty to animals and changes have to be made."
The Humane Society says they started their undercover investigation after receiving a tip about animal abuse at the Wyoming farm. They say the person who recorded the video worked at Wyoming Premium Farms for most of April.
The part-owner of Wyoming Premium Farms says the employee in question never told managers about the alleged abuse.
Statement from Wyoming Premium Farms
On Friday, I was contacted by the Wyoming Livestock Board regarding a video the board had received. On Monday, I drove to Cheyenne to meet with the board and to view the video from the HSUS. Evidently, HSUS had placed an undercover spy in our workforce.
I was told that the undercover spy had pointed out certain items that she had noticed while working there to different people at the farm. However, never once did she express any concerns to me, the general manager and the person responsible for hiring her.
While still sitting at the Livestock Board’s conference table on Monday, I called the farm manager and asked him if he was made aware of comments from the employee we knew as Whitney Warrington. He said because she was new she always seemed to have new-person type of questions. He said his memory of all the things she said is a little bit fuzzy, but added he definitely would have remembered if anything about animal abuse had come out of her mouth.
Immediately after my meeting in Cheyenne, I contacted the farm managers and instructed them to conduct a meeting immediately to once again stress with our workers the importance of animal welfare.
I then contacted our consulting veterinarian and asked him to join me tomorrow (Tuesday) for an unannounced herd visit. He also suggested we retain an independent 3rd party Animal Care Group to review the video I had viewed and give us comments and recommendations. We are doing that.
I take these allegations seriously and I am disappointed I did not hear them directly from Whitney Warrington while she was working on our farm so we could have addressed any concerns immediately. Nonetheless, in addition to the review by our veterinarian and by the independent animal-care group, we are conducting our own investigation. We take the pork industry’s We Care initiative seriously and are committed to the well-being of all our animals and to the safety of our workers.
We will address any problems that are identified.
Doug DeRouchey, General Manager/Part-Owner
Statement from Tyson Foods
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 buys aged sows; however, these animals are subsequently sold to other companies and are not used in Tyson’s pork processing business.
We’ve seen the video and we are appalled by the apparent mistreatment of the animals. We do not condone for any reason this kind of mistreatment of animals shown in the video.
Virtually all of the hogs Tyson buys for our processing plants come from thousands of independent farm families who use both individual and group housing. We require all hog farmers who supply us to be certified in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which incorporates rigid animal well-being standards and is part of the industry’s ‘We Care’ responsible pork initiative. We validate enrollment and audit conformance to these standards. Farms that do not conform will be eliminated from our supply chain.
For information on the pork industry’s ‘We Care’ responsible pork initiative, go to www.porkcares.com