Tyson denies HSUS-alleged connection to abused hogs

2012-05-09T13:10:00Z Tyson denies HSUS-alleged connection to abused hogsMidwest Producer Midwest Producer
May 09, 2012 1:10 pm  • 

Officials at Tyson Foods denied any connection between the company and a Wyoming farm that is alleged in a video to have abused hogs raised there.

The Humane Society of the United States, an animal rights group, released the

"undercover video" that was shot in April at a sow unit owned by Wyoming Standard Farms of Wheatland, Wyo. In a press release that accompanied the video, HSUS said the farm supplied hogs to Tyson.

HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle said the footage documented the "extreme confinement practice" and depicted mistreatment of sows and pigs.

In a statement, Tyson Foods said it "does not buy any of the hogs raised on this farm for our pork processing plants. We do have a small, but separate hog buying business that buys aged sows; however, these animals are subsequently sold to other companies and are not used in Tyson's pork processing business."

Virtually all of the hogs bought for its processing plants come from thousands of independent farm families who use both individual and group housing, Tyson said. The company said it requires all its suppliers to be certified in the industry's Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which incorporates rigid animal well-being standards and to be part of the industry's 'We Care' responsible pork initiative. Tyson said it actively validates enrollment and audits conformance to these standards. Farms that do not conform will be eliminated from our supply chain, Tyson said.

Doug DeRouchey, general manager and part owner, of  Wyoming Standard Farms, said he was contacted Friday by the Wyoming Livestock Board regarding a video it had received. He said he drove to Cheyenne on Monday to meet with the board and to view the video from HSUS.

"Evidently, HSUS had placed an undercover spy in our workforce," DeRouchey said. "I was told that the undercover spy had pointed out certain items that she had noticed while working there to different people at the farm. However, never once did she express any concerns to me, the general manager and the person responsible for hiring her."

He said that while still sitting at the board's conference table Monday, he called the farm manager and asked him if he was made aware of comments from the employee, who was known as Whitney Warrington.

"He said because she was new she always seemed to have new-person type of questions," DeRouchey said. "He said his memory of all the things she said is a little bit fuzzy, but added he definitely would have remembered if anything about animal abuse had come out of her mouth.

"Immediately after my meeting in Cheyenne, I contacted the farm managers and instructed them to conduct a meeting immediately to once again stress with our workers the importance of animal welfare."

DeRouchey said he then contacted the farm's consulting veterinarian and asked him to attend an unannounced herd visit on Tuesday. He also suggested an independent third party Animal Care Group be retained to review the video and give comments and recommendations.

"I take these allegations seriously and I am disappointed I did not hear them directly from Whitney Warrington while she was working on our farm so we could have addressed any concerns immediately," DeRouchey said. "Nonetheless, in addition to the review by our veterinarian and by the independent animal-care group, we are conducting our own investigation. We take the pork industry's We Care initiative seriously and are committed to the well-being of all our animals and to the safety of our workers. We will address any problems that are identified."

The National Pork Producers Council said the video "shows practices that are abhorrent to U.S. pork producers. The National Pork Producers Council condemns such actions, which are not in accord with the U.S. pork industry's best practices that are exemplified in its Pork Quality Assurance Plus program.

"Providing humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life is one of the ethical principles to which U.S. pork producers adhere. U.S. pork producers are committed to caring for animals in a way that protects their well-being. Just as it is to others, mistreatment of animals is appalling to pork producers. We do not defend and will not accept mistreatment of animals."

Wyoming Premium Farms has four production locations in Wyoming.  The company is owned by a Japanese company, Itoham America Incorporated, which is based in Denver.

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