LITTLE ROCK — An animal rights group on Tuesday released a video showing what appears to be animal abuse at a hog farm that supplies pork to Walmart.
Los Angeles-based Mercy for Animals called on Bentonville-based Walmart to drop the supplier, Pipestone System’s Rosewood Farms in Pipestone, Minn., and to stop accepting any pork from suppliers that do not treat animals humanely.
Walmart and Pipestone System said Tuesday they do not condone the animal treatment seen in the video.
Mercy for Animals spokesman Ari Solomon said in a news conference that an undercover operative shot the hidden-camera video in August and September while working at Rosewood Farms for 10 weeks.
The video, narrated by “Babe” star James Cromwell, shows pigs said to be pregnant mothers kept in cages, or “gestation crates,” barely larger than their bodies. The pigs spend nearly their entire lives in the crates, unable to turn around or lie down comfortably, according to Cromwell’s narration.
The video also shows workers casually hitting, throwing and dropping pigs, castrating and cutting the tails off of squealing piglets and killing piglets by grabbing them by the hind legs and smashing their heads into the floor.
Nine U.S. states and the European Union have banned the use of gestation crates, and nearly every major food provider except Walmart has committed to eliminating their use, according to the video.
“This is blatant animal abuse that Walmart should not be supporting,” Solomon told reporters.
Walmart spokeswoman Danit Marquardt said in a phone interview Tuesday, “We think the animal handling in this video is unacceptable. We are currently conducting our own review of the situation. For the past several months, we’ve been working on a new, comprehensive auditing and tracking program for pork, which is scheduled to roll out in the coming weeks.”
Marquardt said the tracking system would help ensure that Walmart only purchases from farms that meet the highest standards of animal treatment.
Asked if Walmart would drop Pipestone System as a supplier, Marquardt would say only that “we’re currently conducting our own review.”
Pipestone system said in a statement Tuesday that it “does not condone any type of willful animal abuse.”
“The Pipestone System immediately conducted an internal investigation of alleged mistreatment and discovered certain violations of its animal welfare policy that resulted in the immediate termination of one employee, reassignment of another and follow-up training of the remaining employees. The Pipestone System also requested and underwent an immediate third party external audit of the operations at this farm,” the company said.