PETA: Manager still at farm where pigs were abused

  • Article by: STEVE KARNOWSKI
  • Associated Press
  • October 21, 2008 - 12:11 PM

MINNEAPOLIS - The manager of an Iowa hog farm where an animal rights group shot video of workers abusing pigs is still on the job, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Tuesday, and the group released a new video it said shows him kicking and shocking an injured sow.

The farm near Bayard, Iowa, is owned by MowMar Farms LLP of Fairmont, Minn., and supplies Hormel Foods Corp. of Austin. PETA first released video of animals being abused at the farm a month ago, prompting MowMar, Hormel and the National Pork Board to denounce the practices.

MowMar, which said it had owned the farm for less than a month before the video came out, promised a thorough investigation and said employees found to have committed animal cruelty violations would be fired.

PETA spokesman Dan Paden said he confirmed that the manager still works at the farm with a phone call to the facility Monday.

A previously unreleased video posted on PETA's Web site shows a man, who the group identifies as the manager, repeatedly kicking, shocking and cursing an injured sow that was unable to stand. PETA said the video was shot on the first working day after a PETA investigator advised the manager of the alleged abuse.

"One month later, the pigs at this farm are still at the mercy of the same manager — despite the apparently criminal cruelty to animals that PETA uncovered," PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch said in a prepared statement. "We have yet to see any action from Hormel that would spare these mother pigs and their babies one iota of suffering."

Hormel criticized PETA for not releasing the video earlier.

"We are appalled that PETA representatives not only witnessed incidents of improper animal handling without reporting the abuse, and after several months, have not released all of the video footage," spokeswoman Julie Craven said in a statement. "If they are truly concerned about animal welfare, they should release information when they obtain it.

"We found the images in the footage from the Iowa farm appalling and they are inconsistent with our standards and industry standards for animal handling. The abuse on the video depicted shows practices that are completely unacceptable," she said.

MowMar co-owner Lynn Becker did not immediately reply to phone calls and e-mails seeking comment Tuesday.

PETA's original video showed farm workers hitting sows with metal rods, slamming piglets on a concrete floor and bragging about jamming rods into the anus of sows. At the time, MowMar and Hormel said most of the abuse apparently occurred under the farm's previous owners. Hormel said the farm became a supplier to Hormel only after the change in ownership.

Greene County, Iowa, Sheriff Tom Heater said at the time that it appeared to him that crimes had been committed, and that his department would investigate. He did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment on the status of the investigation.

Steve Weaver, president of the National Pork Board, said his industry condemns the abuse of any animal.

"The National Pork Board and America's pork producers take their ethical responsibility for the proper care of pigs seriously and will not tolerate any mistreatment of animals," Weaver said in a statement. "The owners of the Iowa sow farm involved in the PETA investigation also have expressed that they will not tolerate the misconduct of any employee involved in the care of animals. The owners have said that they have taken steps and continue to take action to protect the well-being of the animals on their farms."


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