This might not be the best time to release an undercover video of cruelty to Iowa farm animals.


A bill to outlaw such videos, and punish people who make them, remains alive in the Iowa Assembly. Presidential candidates from both parties are showing up in Iowa by the day now. It’s the time when what Iowa wants, Iowa usually gets.

So perhaps this is not the time for a hidden-camera video showing pigs being confined, thrown and mutilated as they make their way to some of the largest grocery chains.

But Mercy for Animals, a national animal rights group, is posting on the Internet a secretly recorded videotape from Iowa Select Farms, a Kamrar facility housing thousands of pigs.

In Mercy for Animals description, the video reveals:

— Sows confined in crates barely larger than their own bodies, and piglets having their testicles ripped out and tails cut off without painkillers.

— Pigs suffering from large, open, pus-filled wounds and pressure sores.

—  Sows – physically taxed from constant birthing – suffering from distended, inflamed, bleeding, and usually fatal uterine prolapses.

— Management training workers to throw piglets across the room – comparing it to a “roller coaster ride.”

“This video depicts scenes of unbearable suffering and inexcusable neglect,” animal behaviorist Dr. Jonathan Balcombe said in a news release. “This farm should be closed down at once.”

“If pork producers threw, mutilated, or cruelly confined puppies or kittens like they do pigs, they could be jailed for animal abuse,” said MFA executive director Nathan Runkle. “It’s high time that the nation’s largest grocery chains took meaningful action to ensure that the animals raised and killed for their stores did not endure lives filled with pain and misery.”

Pork from pigs raised at the factory farm is sold under Swift pork brands to grocery chains Kroger (NYSE:KR), Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Safeway (NYSE:SWY), and Hy-Vee. 

Mercy For Animals is urging the grocery giants to adopt new animal welfare guidelines prohibiting such abuses.

The advocacy group notes that the use of narrow “gestation crates” has already been banned in Florida, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, California, Maine and Michigan and that some prominent food industry names, including Whole Foods, Chipotle, and Wolfgang Puck, have policies prohibiting pork suppliers from using gestation crates.

Kroger, Costco, Safeway and Hy-Vee reportedly have no animal welfare policies requiring their pork suppliers to phase out the crates.

To view the undercover video, go to

  • dangermaus

    “Hey honey, look! Pork shoulder for $.89 a pound! I wonder how they can produce it that cheap…”
    This is how food is produced when no one cares about anything but price pound.

  • Jayme

    Now is a better time than ever to release such a video! MFA’s investigation shows just what we have to lose if we don’t defeat the bill. The video is not only shocking for the abuse, but the fact that it’s all normal to most pig farms. People need to be able to see where their food comes from.

  • dangermaus

    I still don’t these think of stories (animal rights stories) belong this “food safety” site. Sure… Living conditions certainly impacts the flora of microbes living in, on and around a food animal, this story is clearly about the suffering that the author seems to perceive that the animals are experiencing, not food safety. More specifically, it’s about the topic of introducing private, and governmental controls on how people may raise food animals – controls that are for the purpose of increasing animal welfare, not food safety.
    I think it’s a marriage of convenience by two advocacy groups trying to emotionally manipulate people into supporting their causes… Animal rights activists use to bogeyman of “food safety” to scare people into supporting them, and food safety advocates* use stories of filthy, sad animals to pull on peoples’ heartstrings and get people interested in their topics.
    Of course I think most animals “should” have plenty of space, social interaction with their species, and appropriate “stuff to do”, but it’s a dirty trick to pretend that’s a “food safety” issue any more than it’s an environmental, economic, or other related issue.
    *Unfortunately, many local food advocates use this emotional trick, as well.

  • Patrick

    Cases of animal abuse are widespread and well-documented and they are not isolated incidents. And in this latest incident, Kroger and Costco must have thought the video showed abuse because they have suspended purchases from the supplier in the video.
    Any time someone turns on the video camera, they can find abuse because it is standard industry practice–and for a very good reason. Abusing animals adds a large percentage to the profits of factory farmers. The more animals are crammed into smaller spaces, moved quicker through assembly lines, and treated as machines instead of the creatures they are, the more money they make. That’s why the tail-docking, castration, debeaking and overcrowding are standard practices. It’s cheaper that way.
    Last year several spokespersons for the egg industry admitted that grinding live male chicks up in a wood-chipper-machine or suffocating them in plastic bags was standard practice. That they can advocate this with a straight face– while denying abuse — tells us about the depths of their inhumanity.