USA: After pork giant was exposed for cruel killings, the FBI pursued its critics.

With thanks as always to Stacey at ‘Our Compass’ – Our Compass | Because compassion directs us … (our-compass.org)

Regards Mark

Remember:

‘One mans terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’

“A particularly brutal process called “ventilation shutdown,” or VSD. Workers sealed off airways while pumping steam into the barns, intensifying the heat — over the course of many hours — to the point at which the pigs died from suffocation and/or hyperthermia”.

After pork giant was exposed for cruel killings, the FBI pursued its critics

MARCH 1, 2021

Source The Intercept: “…making it quite possible that some pigs survived, and are therefore buried alive or crushed by the bulldozers that haul away the corpses.”

Let’s be clear: all animal slaughter is inherently abusive and cruel and causes fear and suffering regardless of how humans, who will never be subjected to the same violent fate, define it. Those who are horrified by ventilation shutdown yet not “commonly accepted” forms of slaughter are actually just using one form of cruelty to justify another.

Please visit HERE to learn of the violence inherent in the animal exploitation industry regardless of how you define such, and before you reject footage as “the exception” (it’s not) or based on vegan “propaganda” (versus nothing provided by the animal exploiters) just remember: the “animal agriculture industry” relies on and actively pursues consumer ignorance, willful or not, and DO NOT release their own footage. Ask yourself why that is: if they are humane, they can prove it, but are unable to, and rather than use funds supporting “humane treatment” they use money to hide their deception, cruelty, greed, and intentional participation in abject suffering. That is why you will never see the an-ag industry actually demonstrate “humane treatment” before or during the killing; they instead hide the barbarism and focus on those who are exposing it.

Who’s the terrorist? SL

Source The Intercept

By Lee Fang

Last June, Noel Williams, the chief operations officer of Iowa Select Farms, a powerful pork company and the largest in Iowa, pulled into the parking lot of an empty housing complex typically used for the firm’s immigrant workforce.

He was there to transport Lucas Walker, a former truck driver for Iowa Select, to a meeting with Nick Potratz, an FBI agent from the Des Moines office of the bureau. That’s according to Walker, who had recently tried to report Iowa Select, his former employer, for mistreating animals. After The Intercept published leaked video of pigs being killed off en masse, Walker came under scrutiny.

Now, the FBI had a favor to ask: Would Walker become an informant? More specifically, they wanted him to help in an effort to investigate and undermine an activist group that had become a thorn in Iowa Select’s side. They even asked if he’d be willing to sell drugs.

The saga that brought him into contact with the FBI began when the 26-year-old grew frustrated with his former employer, Iowa Select, which is headquartered in his hometown of Iowa Falls. Walker thought the company was blatantly disregarding state “double stocking” rules, which limit the size and number of pigs that are held in an intensive animal feeding facility, letting overweight pigs crowd into pens far too small to hold them.

He was tired of what he saw as frequent rule-breaking and disregard for the well-being of the tens of thousands of hogs raised by Iowa Select. The company, in his view, seemed hellbent on expansion and profits, leading to rampant overcrowding and water pollution. That rapid expansion led to the annual production of 1.5 billion pounds of pork a year, a global leader before the pandemic. The novel coronavirus, however, closed regional slaughterhouses, creating a glut of pigs.

He decided to speak out and called state regulators.

Walker doesn’t fit the profile of an animal rights activist. The central Iowa-raised truck driver, who jokingly refers to himself as corn-fed with beer running through his veins, is a fervent Trump and NRA supporter who has spent years working in the state’s maze of hog production facilities. He describes himself as independent-minded with libertarian instincts, with a bit of a contrarian side suspicious of organized power.

“I’m not necessarily animal rights by any means,” said Walker in an interview with The Intercept. “I have a cattle herd — small calf herd — and my wife and myself have some free-range pigs ourselves.”

“It was a moral issue at the heart of it. … I’m the kind of person who knows right from wrong. It was a principled thing.”

Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources, the local farm regulator, Walker felt, did not seem to care about his concerns over the phone or show any interest in enforcement on a company like Iowa Select. Iowa, followed by North Carolina and Minnesota, is the largest pork-producing state in the country and infamously deferential to industry. Iowa officials have faced criticism for failing to regulate concentrated pork facilities for water pollution and poor animal welfare standards.

Jeff Hansen, the founder of Iowa Select, built the pork powerhouse first as a salesman, helping distribute modern farrowing crates, automatic feeders, and other livestock equipment to other pig farmers in the state. He built two companies at once: a turnkey construction firm known as Modern Hog Concepts, which helped farmers upgrade their barns into modern factory farms, and Iowa Select, which raised pigs for slaughter.

Along the way, as he grew his business empire, Hansen built close connections with Iowa’s political elite. In 1994, during a cycle in which Hansen was one of the largest campaign contributors to then-Gov. Terry Branstad, he had set aside employee money for campaign contributions to local Republicans. The resulting scandal forced lawmakers to return campaign funds to Iowa Select, but the company continued to grow.

The owners of Iowa Select, Jeff and his wife Debra Hansen, are still among the largest campaign contributors in the state, and close to Gov. Kim Reynolds. A recent donation of $50,000 brought the total the couple has donated to the governor to nearly $300,000.

The governor has maintained cozy ties to Iowa Select. Shortly after her election in 2018, Reynolds volunteered to auction off her time as a gift to the Hansen family foundation. In the early days of the pandemic, her administration arranged a Covid-19 testing site at a corporate office used by white-collar Iowa Select employees and foundation employees, raising concerns with one Polk County supervisor of special treatment for the campaign donor.

And Kayla Lyon, who Reynolds appointed to run the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which inspects hog farms for compliance with animal welfare and environmental rules, is a former dairy industry official and agribusiness lobbyist. Lyon, in her previous capacity as an influence peddler in Des Moines, had worked to pass the 2012 “ag gag” law that criminalized recording at farm facilities, according to lobbyist disclosures. Lyon lobbied at a time when Iowa Select’s lobbyists in Des Moines pushed for the bill, records show.

The impetus for that bill, which was designed to criminally prosecute whistleblowers at factory farming operations, also started in part with Iowa Select. The year before the bill was signed into law, an animal rights activist group, Mercy for Animals, released an undercover video that showed Iowa Select workers ripping the testicles from conscious piglets, removing tails with dull clippers, and scores of sows in small confinement cages, appearing to suffer from untreated sores and other wounds.

The law, though later overturned by a federal court, was the first of its kind and rapidly inspired copycat legislation across the country.

Walker’s failed attempts to reach regulators, to report overcrowding in Iowa Select facilities, didn’t surprise him. “The DNR wasn’t very interested in talking about it,” said Walker. “They’re too big to be regulated.”

“There have been no recent enforcement actions against Iowa Select Farms. Nor are we aware of any complaints or allegations made to the DNR,” Alex Murphy, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said in an email to The Intercept.

Walker, aware that he had few outlets for help, turned to the internet to research whistleblowing resources for factory farms. That’s how he found Direct Action Everywhere, the Berkeley, California-based group that has worked to expose the shocking treatment of animals in factory farms.

Continue reading on page 2

One Response

  1. Thank you, Mark!

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