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Pork industry unanimously condemns abuse

Reaction was swift and strong to last weeks undercover video from an Iowa hog farm showing mistreatment of animals.

"The pork industry condemns the abuse of any animal," Steve Weaver, president of the National Pork Board, said in a media statement. 

Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, said, "This is a wakeup call for the industry that we need to continue to monitor these situations so we can identify abuse immediately and get it out of the barns. It is frustrating because of the resources the industry has poured into education and training. There's no excuse for that kind of behaviour." 

The video, recorded by an undercover investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), shows farm workers kicking sows, striking them with gate rods and laughing as piglets are euthanised with blunt trauma. 

Dave Moody, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Assn. (IPPA) and a producer from Nevada, Iowa, had not seen the video but said such abuse should not be condoned. "If, in fact, this did occur, it's not acceptable and needs to be dealt with," he said. 

"Those involved in these reprehensible acts must be dismissed immediately," said Aaron Putze, executive director of the Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers, an advocacy group that promotes livestock industry growth in the state. "They are not worthy of being associated with animal agriculture." 

Questions raised
Further questions are being raised as to why so much time elapsed between when the video was shot and reported to authorities.

"We are concerned with the fact that if animal abuse took place, the industry was not advised in a timely manner so that corrective action could be immediately taken," said Ron Birkenholz, IPPA communications director. 

PETA has asked for the immediate termination and prosecution of any employee who abuses animals, protection for undercover investigators who go public with the abuse, a ban on all shocking devices, the installation of cameras in animal housing areas, annual animal welfare audits - results of which are made public - and a phase-out of sow gestation stalls by 2011.

Hormel spokeswoman Julie Henderson Craven reportedly called the abuses "completely unacceptable." The company said it has a "zero-tolerance policy" and has, "in the past, terminated employees, truckers and contracts with producers when animal welfare issues have arisen."

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