A four-month long investigation by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals documented serious cruelty and neglect of pigs at one of Wal-Mart's biggest pork suppliers.
An undercover investigator working with MFA videotaped pigs living in deplorable conditions at Hanska, Minnesota's Christensen Farms. Pregnant pigs are shown confined for most of their lives in fly-infested crates so small the animals cannot even turn around. Animals with bloody, open and infected wounds were left untreated. Piglets were seen being slammed headfirst into the ground as well as having their testicles removed and tails cut off without the use of any painkillers. In a statement released by MFA, national campaign coordinator Phil Letten said, "Walmart pork suppliers are guilty of horrific cruelty to animals,” adding, “pork sold in Walmart stores comes from pigs who are abused, neglected, and sentenced to lives of extreme confinement and deprivation in crates where they can’t even turn around, walk, lie down comfortably, or engage in other natural behaviors."
MFA broke the investigation on July 18th at a press conference with Bob Barker, a long-time animal activist and former host of the game show, "The Price is Right." Mercy for Animals held its first protest against the nation's biggest retailer at a Los Angeles Wal-Mart location yesterday, July 31st. Among the protestors was film and television actor, James Cromwell. Perhaps best known for his role as Farmer Hoggett in the film Babe, which is about a pig, Cromwell was on hand along with a 10-foot-tall inflatable pig resembling the neglected and abused animals found in the investigation.
Wal-Mart demands steep discounts from its suppliers to keep its retail pricing down, which has influenced retail pricing in competing chains as well. It has also influenced suppliers to cut costs, which can affect operations and staffing. And despite many environmentally friendly initiatives observed the chain, Charles Fishman, author of The Wal-Mart Effect suggests in his book that "we have lost track of the places where the products come from, the factories where they are made, the people who make them." Says Letten, "This is blatant animal abuse that no socially responsible corporation should be supporting.”
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Image: Walmart Stores