Lewis Hamilton has urged his fans to watch a new pro-vegan documentary.
The film, created by leading animal protection agency Viva!, is called HOGWOOD: a modern horror story. It will be available to stream on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Google Play Movies from tomorrow (June 25).
Hamilton said of the movie: “Please watch this. We need to find compassion in our hearts to see what we are doing to this world.”
The film centers around Viva!’s four undercover investigations into Hogwood Farm. According to the organization, ‘we recorded a catalogue of cruelty including extreme overcrowding, routine mutilation, sick and dying pigs abandoned in gangways, painful lacerations and live cannibalism’.
In a statement sent to Plant Based News, Viva said: “The conspiracy unfolds as we fight against some of the most powerful players in the animal agriculture industry. This is a gripping tale of negligence, greed and inaction, and our unrelenting fight to help the pigs trapped in Hogwood Farm.
“Join us as we take you through our battle for justice against Hogwood Farm, a Red Tractor approved farm who were supplying supermarket giant, Tesco, supposedly representing some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world.
“This is a huge milestone for us and we could not have done it without your support. You helped us show the demand for this film to be made and now, it will be screened to the masses from June 25.”
HOGWOOD: a modern horror story
The film, which has a running time of just over 30 minutes, is presented by actor Jerome Flynn.
Speaking about the movie, Flynn said: “”It is an honor to be presenting this very important film. After seeing the horrendous conditions and animal abuse that is happening behind Hogwood’s walls I had to do something. The pigs of Hogwood aren’t just meat products, they are sensitive, emotionally aware beings just like us and they deserve better than this.”https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/v_kHNUwm3Yw
Director Tony Wardle added: “I have been producing investigative documentaries for many years and no film has been more harrowing than HOGWOOD. The name ‘a modern horror story’ could not be more apt; there are modern horror stories taking place each day in the British countryside.
“Not only are these horrors hidden from sight, but they are endorsed by huge corporations and the government. That is why this film had to be made – because the public has a right to see what takes place beyond the factory farm walls.”
Viva! adds: “We realized that Hogwood is part of a bigger story, one that aims to end factory farming for good — and so we created HOGWOOD: a modern horror story. Now we need your help to get this film seen by the masses.”
The Iowa Department of Agriculture has launched a program to help pork producers deal with hogs they can’t take to market after coronavirus shut downs at packing plants. Ag Secretary Mike Naig says it’s something no producer wants to deal with.
“Farmers are doing everything they can to avoid having to take the step of euthanizing and disposing of animals,” Naig says. “They are finding alternate ways to market, they are selling direct to consumers, they’re changing their feed ration to slow down the rate of gain — they are doing everything they can. This truly is an action, a decision of last resort.”
The Ag Department is offering producers 40 dollars for each animal to help cover some of the disposal costs for market-ready hogs.
“It won’t cover all costs, but it is a part of the cost that they’ll incur to euthanize and dispose of animals,” he says.
Naig says they are still hoping for federal help to cover the loss of revenue from the hogs. Iowa State University estimates that by mid-May there were approximately 600-thousand pigs in Iowa that were unable to go to the packing plants. Iowa producers were faced with killing thousands of chickens and turkeys during the bird flu outbreak five years ago — and Naig says they learned some things then.
“One of the key learnings from that was to really empower producers to make decisions and to take control of the situation,” according to Naig. “They know their operations better than anyone else. And they also know the resources at their disposal better than anyone else. We learned that back in 2015.”
He says they will hand out the funding in at least three rounds.
“The first round closes Friday of this week, and farmers will need to reach out to our office. They can call the main number or they can go to IowaAgriculture.gov and there is a way to apply there. And then we will subsequently roll out rounds two and three,” Naig says.
Naig says this will help producers deal with the short-term problem. In the long-term, he says they need to continue to get making the packing plants safe for workers.
He says that it will allow the employees to confidently show up and know that they can work safely. “That’s ultimately what it takes to return to full processing capacity. Today in Iowa we are running at about 75 percent of our normal processing capacity — an again that number steadily improves each day.” Naig says.
He says this could continue to be a problem throughout the summer. Each applicant who is approved will receive funding for at least one-thousand animals and up to 30-thousand each round, depending on the number of applicants. The money comes from federal coronavirus relief funding.
One of the US’s most dangerous industries is becoming even more hazardous for workers, as animal welfare and consumer safety are also put on the line. The federal government is allowing more and more slaughter plants to kill animals at increasingly dangerous rates.
At the end of September, the Trump administration announced that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be granting waivers allowing chicken slaughter plants to operate at higher kill speeds — going from a staggering 140 birds killed per minute (or more than two birds every single second) to 175.
This misguided decision benefits only the profit-driven meat industry. It does so at the expense of millions of animals, workers and consumers.
Four waivers have recently been granted to chicken plants that will join 20 already killing as many as 175 birds each minute. A gut-wrenching new undercover investigation by my organization, Compassion Over Killing (COK), reveals high-speed horrors behind the closed doors of one of those initial 20 plants, and why these waivers must come to a screeching halt.
Reckless High-Speed Slaughter Exposed
Marking the second time in just three years that a COK investigator has exposed the alarming consequences of high-speed slaughter, this heartbreaking hidden-camera footage was filmed inside Amick Farms in Hurlock, Maryland.
COK’s investigator documented workers punching, shoving or throwing birds down the hurtling line; birds slowly drowning in electrified stunning baths during equipment breakdowns; and “red birds,” chickens who were not fully bled out before entering the scalding tank — evidence that they entered the tank while still alive.
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“Birds can be seen — still hanging from the shackles — in the water bath. … It is likely that the birds would have experienced prolonged, possibly painful electrical shock while they died of drowning,” said Dr. Sara Shields, a farm animal behavior and welfare specialist at Humane Society International, in an expert statement in response to COK’s footage. “This situation is totally unacceptable from an animal welfare perspective.”
COK submitted its video evidence to local authorities as well as to FSIS, urging the agency to revoke increased line speeds at Amick Farms and other high-speed plants, and stop issuing any further waivers. Though the criteria for receiving a waiver specifies that plants “must be able to demonstrate that … faster line speeds will maintain or improve food safety,” among other requirements, COK’s new investigation has shown that faster lines lead to enormous animal suffering.
Amick Farms responded to The Washington Post’s coverage of the investigation, neglecting to take any real responsibility for the cruelties happening behind the doors of its slaughterhouse.
At current rates of 140 birds slaughtered per minute at most plants, birds are already enduring horrific suffering. In addition, workers, who must keep up with the fast-paced assembly line environment, are forced to take inhumane shortcuts. Yet, with the government’s recent announcement, we’re moving quickly backward from bad to much worse.
Other COK investigations have documented birds being improperly shackled, dumped onto the conveyor belt and being roughly handled by workers struggling to keep up with rapidly moving lines. Birds suffer during this short and tragic journey to the kill line — already having endured severely overcrowded and filthy conditions on factory farms where they were bred for unnaturally rapid growth.
After these birds spend their lives standing, eating and sleeping in their own waste (often causing painful ammonia burns on their skin) and possibly even having their legs collapse under the unnatural weight of their own genetically manipulated bodies, the life of a “broiler” chicken farmed for food culminates in the horror of painful slaughter.
In addition to the obvious cruelty toward farmed animals in the final moments of their short lives, high-speed slaughter lines also pose grave danger to workers. Many employees at slaughter plants are already vulnerable undocumented workers exploited in one of the nation’s most dangerous industries to work. Even at current line speeds, they’re often denied bathroom breaks to keep up the pace at all costs, and can suffer painful medical issues and severe injuries — even amputations.
But instead of taking pause to address the dangers of this reckless program, the USDA is expanding it — and not just for chickens.
The Public Speaks Out Against High-Speed Pig Slaughter
In late 2015, a COK undercover investigator worked at Quality Pork Processors (QPP) in Austin, Minnesota, a pig slaughterhouse that exclusively supplies to Hormel, the maker of SPAM and other pork products. Held up as a model plant for the USDA’s high-speed pig slaughter program — the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point-Based Inspection Model Project — QPP kills approximately 1,300 pigs every hour.
The terrifying truth revealed in undercover footage paints a picture very much like the horrors seen at Amick Farms: pigs being beaten, shocked and dragged to the kill floor. Many were also improperly stunned, possibly leading them to enter the scalding tank alive — just like the “red birds” documented at Amick. In this fast-paced environment, pigs covered in feces or pus-filled abscesses were also seen processed for human consumption — all with a USDA inspection seal of approval.
In April 2018, Compassion Over Killing’s former investigator, now out from behind the camera after his work at QPP and other slaughterhouses, delivered a quarter-million signatures to the USDA demanding it to end its regressive high-speed pig slaughter program.
Yet the USDA continues to frame its high-speed program as a “modernization” of the meat industry. There’s nothing modern about reducing already minimal protections for consumers, animals and workers.
Though animal organizations and workers’ rights advocates alike are fighting these reckless speed increases, and the USDA has received more than 83,000 comments regarding this program — many opposed to it — the enormous lobbying power of the National Chicken Council continues has put pressure on the USDA to eliminate speed caps altogether. The USDA has denied a countrywide increase so far, but there’s little stopping the agency from granting waivers for individual slaughter plants across the United States.
To stand in solidarity with exploited workers, tortured animals and unknowingly duped consumers, the easiest solution is to leave these cruelly mass-produced animal products off our plates. By voting with our dollars and avoiding these products altogether, we show the USDA, National Chicken Council and huge corporations running these plants that we do not support these cruel practices that harm human and non-human animals in the name of profit.
Allowing slaughterhouses to run their kill lines at even faster speeds is a reckless decision by this administration that will lead to increased animal suffering, continued worker exploitation and compromised food safety. Tell the USDA: Not so fast. Take action and sign the petition at HighSpeedHorrors.com.
BEIJING/CHICAGO/CARAMBEI, Brazil (Reuters) – Ken Maschhoff, chairman of the largest U.S. family-owned pork producer, has watched profits fall as trade tensions rise between the United States and China.
Pigs are seen standing in a pen at a farm in Carambei, Brazil September 6, 2018. Picture taken September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Rodolfo Buhrer
His company, The Machhoffs, has halted U.S. projects worth up to $30 million and may move some operations overseas. Investing in domestic operations now would be “ludicrous” as China and others retaliate against U.S. agricultural goods, Maschhoff said from the firm’s Carlyle, Illinois headquarters.
Across the globe, Chinese pig farmer Xie Yingqiang sent most of his 1,000-pig herd to slaughter in May to limit losses after Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans hiked feed prices and left him unable to cover his costs.
“It did not really make sense to keep raising them,” said Xie, from eastern Jiangsu province.
The dueling salvos of the U.S.-China trade war are landing particularly hard on the pork industries of both nations – and spraying shrapnel that has damaged other major pork exporters such as Brazil, Canada and top European producers. In contrast to many industries that trade war has divided into winners and losers, the world’s pork farmers and processors are almost universally shedding profits and jobs from a crippling combination of rising feed costs and sinking pig prices.
The key reason: The trade war came at precisely the wrong time, after a worldwide expansion to record pork production levels on the expectation of rising meat demand and low feed prices from a global grains glut.
In the United States, meat companies such as Seaboard Triumph Foods (SEB.A) and Prestage Farms have spent hundreds of millions of dollars boosting U.S. slaughter capacity by more than 10 percent from three years ago to nearly half a million hogs daily.
Just before trade barriers went up, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicted in an April analysis that global supply growth would outpace demand this year, sparking “fierce competition and lower prices.” Tariff battles accelerated those trends by shutting off export markets, raising feed prices and upending regional supply-and-demand dynamics that underpinned industry profits.
U.S. pork faces retaliatory duties of 62 percent in China and up to 20 percent in Mexico, slashing demand from two top U.S. pork export markets and contributing to a mountain of unsold meat in cold storage.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment.
The USDA said in a statement that pork producers soymeal costs have declined because of a surplus of domestic soybeans that China is no longer buying. The Trump administration is working to increase opportunities for U.S. agriculture with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom, the agency said.
In China, tariffs on U.S. soybeans and an outbreak of African swine flu have driven farmers to send hogs for an early slaughter, exacerbating a glut that followed the rapid expansion of more efficient, large-scale farms in recent years.
Higher domestic supply and rising imports from other suppliers, such as Spain and Brazil, has compensated for the slide in U.S. pork imports. But an African swine fever outbreak this year has added to the problems of China’s pork producers. More than 40 cases have been reported in 13 provinces so far, and restrictions on hog transportation to control the disease have resulted in a glut in some northern provinces and a shortage in the south.
Brazil’s pork industry has suffered higher feed prices partly because farmers now must compete with major Chinese soybean buyers who turned to Brazil to avoid tariffs on U.S. beans.
In Canada, the world’s third largest exporter, producers’ fortunes have fallen along with the U.S. because their prices are tied to that much larger market. In August, prices fell 31 percent less than the previous month, according to data compiled by Hams Marketing Services.
Manitoba farmer George Matheson now expects to sell his about 250 pigs for C$115 per head – well short of the C$150 it costs to raise them.
“I had a hunch this would not be a good thing,” his said of the trade disputes.
RISING COSTS, FALLING PROFITS
Many farmers in China are searching for cheaper protein-rich ingredients to replace soymeal, such as rapeseed or yellow peas.
“Everything I use is becoming more expensive,” said Yu Shiqian, who raises 1,800 hogs in northeastern Liaoning province. “Only the hog price is declining.”
Hong Kong-based WH Group (0288.HK), the world’s top pork producer, which also owns U.S. giant Smithfield, warned earlier this year that its biggest challenge is the oversupply of meat in the United States and uncertainty over trade tensions.
Top Chinese producers Muyuan Foods Co Ltd (002714.SZ), Guangdong Wens Foodstuff Group Co Ltd (300498.SZ) and Beijing Dabeinong Technology (002385.SZ), reported their worst earnings in years in the second quarter due to weak hog prices. Dabeinong also blamed high raw material prices for eroding margins in its feed business.
Xie had hoped to rebuild his herd after the summer but instead “decided to stay away from the pig business for a while.”
“At least I can guarantee I don’t lose money this way,” he said.
A ‘RED YEAR’
In Iowa, the top U.S. pork-producing state, trade disputes will cause hog farmers to lose $18 per head, or $800 million in total revenue from August 2018 to July 2019, Iowa State University economists predicted in September.
For The Maschhoffs, the estimated loss equates to $100 million.
“We were going to make money in ‘18 and ‘19, and now we’re going to have a red year,” Maschhoff said.
The company considered investing in China, Eastern Europe and South America in recent years but shelved the plans because they could more efficiently raise pigs in the United States.
“We’re starting to scratch our heads and say, ‘Did we make the right decision?’” he said.
Producers have scaled back expansion plans because of the trade war, said Barry Kerkaert, a vice president at Minnesota-based Pipestone System, which annually sells farmers about 250,000 sows.
In Lone Rock, Iowa, a town of about 200 people, Roger Cherland raises 3,000 sows. Housed in long barns, the swine jostle for space next to feed bins topped off by machines. The Cherlands’ hogs fetched about $40 per hundred pounds in August – about $20 less than their break-even price.
“We’ve got way too many pigs right now,” Cherland said of U.S. farmers.
A RUN ON SOY IN BRAZIL
In Europe, big pork exporters such as Spain and Germany, have made some additional sales to China and Mexico since the trade wars escalated this year. But the new sales have not been enough to support EU prices because of expanded domestic supply and because China bought less pork earlier this year than in past years.
Pig farmers in Brazil, the world’s fourth largest producer and exporter, also might have been well-positioned to capitalize on a U.S.-China trade war by boosting sales to China. But that has hardly offset the damage from higher feed prices and a host of domestic problems that are hurting exports, driving up domestic supply and slashing prices.
Russia, which until recently bought nearly 40 percent of Brazilian pork exports, imposed a ban in December after discovering traces of the prohibited food additive ractopamine. And the European Union banned imports from 20 Brazilian meat plants, mainly poultry suppliers, due to alleged deficiencies in the nation’s health inspection system.
Brazil’s pig farmers normally can buy cheap local soybeans, a key ingredient in animal feed, because the nation is the world’s second-largest soy producer – but now they pay record prices in part because of the rush of Chinese buyers.
Wilant Boogaard, a hog farmer in Paraná, operates as a member of a cooperative, a scheme that guarantees his production costs are covered by an associated meat processor.
But as partners in the processing business, the cooperative’s farmers have a 40 percent stake, leaving them on the hook for losses.
“The meat-packer is losing money,” he said. “If we manage to survive, it will be a great thing.”
Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago, Hallie Gu in Beijing and Ana Mano in Carambei, Brazil; additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Michael Hogan in Hamburg; Writing by Josephine Mason; editing by Lincoln Feast, Simon Webb and Brian Thevenot
Dead, decomposing animal carcasses that drown and laid in water for days are accepted in North Carolina to be rendered and sold as pet feed ingredients.
One of you wonderful pet owners out there sent me a serious concern. She read a story in the Charlotte Observer that stated “So far 3.4 million chickens and turkeys, and 5,500 hogs are dead in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence wind and floods. The numbers are expected to increase this week.” She was very worried “where all these dead animals will end up.”
Her worry was justified.
Hurricane Florence came ashore on September 14, 2018 according to an ABC News timeline. The next day – September 15, 2018 – “Florence is expected to dump another 14 to 20 inches of rain on southern and central parts of North Carolina into far northeast South Carolina. This will continue to produce “catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding,” the National Weather Service said.”
The “catastrophic” flooding has resulted in the death of at least “5,500 pigs and 3.4 million chickens” according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – published in the Charlotte Observer newspaper September 18, 2018. The animals drowned.
The FDA told me the following (regarding disposal of drowned livestock in North Carolina):
FDA doesn’t “approve” the disposal method in these circumstances. As stated in the mass mortality guidance, “Owners may choose to dispose of their mortality from storms and may do so, but catastrophic loss mortality must be reported to the State Veterinarian and the proposed method of disposal must be approved prior to disposal.” Evaluating and potentially approving a proposed method of disposal would fall under the NC Department of Agriculture/State Veterinarian’s purview.
North Carolina tells the livestock industry that “when flooding is an issue” the primary options to dispose of millions of drown animals are (in order of NC Dept of Ag preference):
Rendering North Carolina Department of Agriculture states (bold added): “Rendering is a preferred off-site option with some limitations due to timing challenges and access to carcasses during flooding events. It is low cost and results in a product of value from rendered carcasses.”
North Carolina landfills – per their documents – accept pigs and chicken carcasses…but will North Carolina landfills accept decomposing carcasses of pigs and chickens that have been laying in flood waters for days?
Composting “Composting is the best on-site carcass disposal option. Site allowing for heavy equipment to form the compost pile and move carcasses.” Will flooded farms be able to compost the millions of dead animals?
Will those decomposing animal carcasses become rendered pet food ingredients? Chances are – they will.
And worse yet – no pet owner will know which pet food will contains rendered decomposing drowned animals from Hurricane Florence.
Become a member of our pet food consumer Association. Association for Truth in Pet Food is a a stakeholder organization representing the voice of pet food consumers at AAFCO and with FDA. Your membership helps representatives attend meetings and voice consumer concerns with regulatory authorities. Click Here to learn more.
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Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients? Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 5,000 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. Click Here to preview Petsumer Report. www.PetsumerReport.com
from DawnWatch: This Sunday, October 9, the Magazine section of the New York Times is dubbed “The Food Issue.” It includes some terrific articles, including a piece by Michael Pollan, and a haunting photo-essay on big ag. Best of all it includes a piece, by Ted Genoways, on the undercover work of a
“Compassion Over Killing” investigator.
The article on the COK investigator, titled, “Close to the Bone,” and titled online “The Fight Over Transparency in the Meat Industry,” first tells us how little consumers know about the meat they eat. We read that the Department of Agriculture no longer oversees and verifies claims such as
“grass-fed” or “naturally raised,” and that even when the department certifies labels they are questionable, with no standard definition for “humanely raised,” and no site visits to confirm enforcement for those approved to use the label.
“Amid such dwindling transparency and oversight, animal rights activists, once regarded as the radical fringe, have taken on a somewhat unlikely role as consumer watchdogs.” He follows an investigator named Jay who get a job at a pig slaughterhouse near Austin. We read:
“He filmed a hog being hit in the face with plastic rattle paddles and electrically prodded on the head. He filmed another hog being repeatedly beaten then rolled and pushed by its hindquarters. He filmed hogs having their throats slit while still alive and — in one particularly harrowing sequence — appeared to capture a hog struggling to right itself in its shackle as it is carried toward processing. A spokesman for Q.P.P. said all the hogs ‘had been properly rendered insensible,’ but the video itself seems to contradict that claim. At one point, a worker shouts over the din of machinery and squealing pigs: ‘Too many sensibles. If U.S.D.A. is around, they could shut us down.'”
The article explains that because of a new kind of self-regulation, known as HIMP, the USDA was unlikely to be around.”
Michael Pollan’s article is titled, “Big Food Strikes Back.” The subheading is, “When Barack Obama took office activists hoped his administration would fight for stronger regulation of corporate agriculture. Eight years later they are still waiting.”
Pollan shares part of an early interview given by President Obama to Joel Klein of Time Magazine:
“I was just reading an article in The New York Times by Michael Pollan about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the meantime, it’s creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our health care costs because they’re contributing to Type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity.”
He reminds us that on the campaign trail Obama vowed “to bring CAFOs under the authority of the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and Superfund program ‘just as any other polluter.’”