Inside America’s Concentration Camps

No, not for humans. Just for pigs, courtesy of Wal-Mart, which refuses to review its support of housing pigs for their entire lives in crates so tight they cannot turn around. Many of you will be unable to watch this video – and I found it close to impossible. It has some NSFW language in it. But this is the reality we are living with and allowing to continue:

How does one describe such barbarism? In plain English:

[It] was recorded by an activist who worked undercover at Rosewood Farm in Pipestone, Minn. The video shows workers slamming piglets into concrete floors until they die, castrating them without painkillers, and roughly beating and cursing at sows. But the more egregious abuse, activists say, is standard industry practice: keeping sows in restrictive gestation crates for their entire lives.

This horror is not restricted to one rogue plant. It is widespread. Here is some footage from the largest pork producer in the US, Smithfield, showing the brutal impact of keeping pigs in gestation crates their entire lives:

Some companies have ended gestation crate confinement; others are cutting back; Smithfield says they’ll get rid of them by 2017 (after hemming and hawing on the deadline). More good news:

Nine states in the United States have banned the use of these pens, which are outlawed in the European Union, and about 60 companies – including McDonalds, Burger King and Costco – have begun to demand that suppliers stop using gestation crates. Gov. Chris Christie recently vetoed a bill to ban the crates in New Jersey, a move that may be a sign that Mr. Christie has his eyes set on certain voters in a possible 2016 run for president, Politico reported this week.

On what conceivable grounds could Christie veto a bill banning such barbarism? Pigs are close to dogs in intelligence and emotion. Would we allow puppies to be picked up by the tail and have their heads smashed into concrete? Would we allow corporations to keep a dog in a crate so small it cannot even turn around for its entire life?  It’s about time the national press began pestering Christie, Wal-Mart, the National Pork Producers Council, and all those complicit in this evil for an answer. You can email the director of communications at the NPPC, Dave Warner, to convey to him your concerns. Please no abuse. Just a polite expression of concern. He can be reached at

Update from a reader:

That video you linked to about Walmart and pig-farming was truly horrible but not even remotely surprising. Bacon is very cheap in the US and this is why. This is also why I became a vegetarian since moving to the US. In Ireland, most of the beef in grass-fed and we used to get home-made sausages from our local butcher. Here, no matter where you eat, you cannot avoid the fact that you are likely to be eating an animal that has been horribly mistreated.

I have no moral objection to eating meat in general – I choose not to now because of the environment and my general health. However, I can’t see how anyone could not consider that treatment morally wrong. Incidentally, I worked in a research lab for a couple of years where we were experimenting on mice. There were very clear, very specific guidelines about what we could and couldn’t do and any procedure required the use of an anesthetic. I didn’t enjoy the job and I wouldn’t do it again but at least I knew that I was doing everything I could to minimize the suffering of the animals. And then you have what you see in that video …