HBO to Air Factory Farm Expose

On March 16, HBO will air the documentary Death on a Factory Farm — a compilation of footage taken in 2006 by an undercover investigator at an Ohio pig factory farm. 

I don’t know what is more shocking: the cruelty captured in the footage, or Time Magazine’s story on the documentary, featuring an interview with the undercover investigator responsible.

In addition to footage from inside the farm, the documentary features the resulting 2006 criminal trial in which the farm’s owner, its manager, and one employee were charged with various forms of animal abuse. Only the manager was convicted, and only on one charge.

The story received widespread media coverage, including coverage of the trial, partly because the farm routinely employs hanging as a euthanasia method for fully conscious sows. While on the stand, the farm’s owner, Ken Wiles, defended this practice, and his expert witness stated that national pork industry standards are only guidelines, leaving pig farmers free to employ euthanasia methods not expressly recommended.  He acknowledged, however, that “hanging may not be fully appropriate.”

Am I the only one failing to grasp the reasonableness of this “reasoning”? Hopefully once Death on a Factory Farm airs, many more Americans will question what in the world is going on in our factory farms.

-Suzanne McMillan