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August 5, 2019, Laurinburg, NC – With North Carolina activists already facing multiple felony charges for a 2018 Smithfield Foods pig farm investigation, the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) released a report and investigation of Smithfield, the largest pork producer in the nation. Activists have documented piglets suffering from dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections, mass pharmaceutical usage, as well as continued use of gestation crates, contrary to the company’s public commitments. DxE says it’s all part of a troubling pattern: systemic corporate animal abuse covered up by so-called “ag-gag” legislation and prosecutions of whistleblowers.
Pressure wounds, infections and prolapses were found as well as intensive confinement and dead and dying babies. One shocking finding was a baby with a serious skin wound that covered about one third of their back and was left open and bleeding. Another finding that stands out is the large number of babies with serious bacterial infections on their faces and bodies. One was rescued and brought to the vet.
“There is a systematic effort to protect animal abusing corporations from accountability and transparency,” DxE co-founder and former law professor Wayne Hsiung said. “It’s the Wild West. They are redefining animal welfare, consumer protection, and even free speech in ways that are arbitrary and dangerous.”
Operating on a tip from local residents, DxE activists entered Smithfield facilities in North Carolina and found thousands of mother pigs confined in gestation crates, cages so small that the animals cannot turn their heads, despite a company promise to phase out the practice. Piglets suffering from a deadly form of staph were removed from the facility and rushed to receive veterinary care. One, a victim of blunt force trauma to the head, died on the way to the vet. The DxE activists say that consumers are opposed to such abuses -- but are being denied accurate information by a series of measures taken by industry-friendly legislation across the nation, including:
“Smithfield’s actions are threatening all life on this planet. Their facilities are a breeding ground for disease and antibiotic resistance, .” Hsiung said. “But the most insidious thing is the twisting of reality. Under the current political status quo, animal care means animal abuse, outdoors is defined to mean indoors with windows, and truth becomes fiction.”
DxE activists are looking to state and local officials to take action in the face of the unprecedented rollback of animal and consumer protection. They say they expect San Francisco to pass first-of-its-kind “Right to Know” legislation in 2020 that would force factory farms to disclose truthful information about their products to consumers. They then expect to push for the factory farm “Right to Know” legislation in cities and states across the nation.
Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) is a grassroots network of animal rights activists. Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area in late 2013, DxE has since grown to have participating chapters in over 160 cities in 30 different countries. Drawing from the power of the grassroots and groundbreaking social scientific research, DxE uses creative nonviolent protest and open rescue to challenge speciesism throughout society.
In January and November 2015, DxE released investigations into two of Whole Foods market’s most notable suppliers, including a “Certified Humane” egg farm and a turkey facility that was one of only three farms out of Whole Foods’ 2100+ suppliers to receive a 5+ rating on its Global Animal Partnership welfare scheme. The investigations and the ensuing protests around the world received coverage in hundreds of news outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. DxE has since filed charges against Diestel Farms, the turkey facility, for consumer fraud.
Since January 2016, DxE has released over a dozen groundbreaking investigations of supposedly humane facilities, including a model egg supplier under California’s Proposition 2, which bans battery cages for hens; a “Natural” pork supplier to Costco and the LA Dodgers; a cage-free Costco egg supplier; and the turkey supplier to the White House. The investigations received media coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Daily Mail, among other outlets. DxE’s Open Rescue model has gained momentum as a tactic for grassroots activists as well, with an independent team in Colorado executing the first-ever investigation into a Sprouts’ cage-free egg supplier. DxE’s Open Rescue Network provides open-source educational tools and resources to democratize investigatory work, serving as infrastructure for independent, grassroots teams of animal rights investigators around the world.
In June 2016, DxE released an investigation into dog meat farms in Yulin, China on ABC’s Nightline, drawing parallels between the brutal violence at the dog meat farms -- which are often retrofitted pig farms -- to violence against animals on farms in the United States.
In July 2017, DxE was featured in The New York Times again for bringing Virtual Reality cameras into factory farms. The Washington Post then reported that the FBI was raiding farm sanctuaries searching for baby piglets that DxE rescued from a Costco supplier. The Intercept revealed that animal ag companies are pressuring the government to crack down on these investigations.
In May 2018, felony charges were filed against six DxE activists, punishable with up to ten years in prison, in conjunction with an investigation and rescue of a dying turkey from a leading turkey producer.
Sonoma county, CA, has emerged as a key political frontier of DxE’s investigative work since the Animal Liberation Conference in May 2018. After evidence of factory farm criminal animal cruelty submitted to relevant authorities has been ignored for over five years, activists have taken matters into their own hands. Over the course of three separate vigils (May 2018 - September 2018 - May 2019) -- with hundreds present at Sonoma county factory farms attempting to provide care to sick and injured animals -- over 100 activists have been arrested, and are currently facing potential felony charges.
DxE has won major institutional achievements at the local level, including a ban on the sale of fur in San Francisco, California -- a ban which is now being proposed at the statewide level. The group’s expanding legislative efforts are part of a long-term vision to make California the first state in the country to prohibit factory farming.
Direct Action Everywhere has been covered in hundreds of media outlets, including Smithfield investigations featured in the New York Times, The Intercept and Vox. To contact our press team, email email@example.com.