A “food fight” over allegations of possible inhumane animal treatment broke out in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
On one side is the pig-raising Rosewood Farms at Pipestone, MN, which just happens to be owned by Randy Spronk, current president of the National Pork Producers Council. On the other side is a group of activist vegetarians called “Mercy for Animals.”
Mercy’s leader, Nathan Runkle, just spoke to VegFest on the campus of the University of Minnesota as his organization was releasing a video that they claim shows inhumane treatment at Rosewood Farms and that initiated a criminal investigation that led to a “raid” on a “factory farm” by local law enforcement.
Mercy has a campaign targeting Walmart pork producers by using undercover operators to produce video of allegedly inhumane practices, which it then posts on its “Walmart Cruelty” website.
According to the Minneapolis Tribune, Mercy’s video shows sows confined in gestation crates and piglets getting castrated and having their tails removed.
In a statement, the National Pork Producers Council said practices shown in the video meet industry standards for humane treatment. The NPPC said an independent veterinarian reviewed the video and found no signs of inhumane treatment and no charges were filed.
Rosewood Farms did fire one worker, according to NPPC, for violating the company’s humane handling practices. It said that action resulted from the pork producer itself bringing in a third-party investigator, not from any cooperation from Mercy. The worker who was fired did not follow the farm’s “animal care protocols,” NPPC said.
It said the vegetarian group did not provide Rosewood with a copy of the video that was turned over to local law enforcement.
NPPC says pork farmers are under an “onslaught” from anti-meat groups that have “deep pockets from deceptive fundraising practices.”
Rosewood Farms is part of the “Pipestone System,” which shares services among 200 pork producers.
Runkle, who grew up on an Ohio farm, says the practice of killing runts with blunt force trauma “can be horribly cruel.” Luke Minion, who runs Pipestone, says piglets are euthanized for having broken bones or breathing problems.
Minion says euthanasia via blunt force is fast and pain-free when done correctly and that its use is approved by NPPC.
Mercy’s video did persuade a judge to issue a search warrant, which was executed by the Pipestone County Sheriff’s office, but no charges resulted. The group’s previous undercover target in Minnesota was Christensen Farms in the south-central part of the state. The Los Angeles-based group posts videos directed at Walmart on its “Walmart Cruelty” website.© Food Safety News