Pigs are incredible animals. In fact, they are considered the fifth-most intelligent animal in the world—even more intelligent than dogs—and are capable of playing video games with more success than chimps.
Despite these facts, not a single federal law protects pigs during their lives at factory farms. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act pertains only to the slaughterhouse, providing them zero protection for most of their lives.
Therefore, it's important for states to pass protections for pigs and other animals at factory farms. Unfortunately, in the following states, life is absolute hell for pigs.
Iowa is the nation's largest pork-producing state. In fact, at any one time there are approximately 20 million pigs being raised in Iowa. That's nearly one-third of the nation's pigs. But life for pigs in Iowa is grim.
The state allows farmers to keep mother pigs in gestation crates, individual cages so small that the animals cannot walk, turn around, or lie down comfortably. Additionally, horrific practices like slamming piglets to the floor and castrating them without anesthesia are completely legal. That's because the state's animal cruelty law was amended in 1994 to exempt “customary” farming practices, allowing factory farmers to determine what is and isn't acceptable.
After numerous undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals and other animal protection groups, state lawmakers passed an ag-gag bill in March 2012 aimed at stopping these investigations by effectively forcing undercover investigators to identify themselves. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, along with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA, and others, recently filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of the state's ag-gag law.
2. North Carolina
North Carolina may be the fourth-largest pork-producing state, but the industry's rapid growth and the state's lack of legal protections are worrisome. Pig farming in the state has grown so fast that there are now almost as many pigs living in North Carolina as there are humans.
Striking back against the numerous undercover investigations MFA has conducted in North Carolina, in 2014 the state legislature passed an ag-gag bill that threatened to shield animal abusers from public scrutiny and keep people in the dark about where their food came from. After an outcry from state residents, the governor vetoed the bill. But to nearly everyone's shock and dismay, the legislature overrode the veto. This dangerous bill hides rampant cruelty from the public and relegates pigs in North Carolina to truly horrific lives.
Missouri, the seventh-largest state for pork production, also passed an ag-gag law in 2012. By requiring that anyone who records incriminating information about farmed animal abuse turn that information over to law enforcement within 24 hours, the law essentially prevents long-term undercover investigations that could reveal a pattern or practice of abuse.
And for pigs in Missouri, daily life is filled with abuse. Mother pigs are confined to tiny crates, piglets are painfully castrated, and any piglets who are too sick, or who aren't growing fast enough, are killed by being slammed headfirst onto concrete floors.
While Arkansas may not be a top pork-producing state, life for pigs there may get a lot worse since, earlier this year, the state's governor signed a dangerous ag-gag bill into law. The law helps corporations abuse animals with impunity by giving them power to sue whistleblowers and undercover investigators who expose evidence of abuse and wrongdoing in factory farms and slaughterhouses.
The ag-gag law is meant to silence groups like MFA and prevent our undercover investigators from documenting the horrific treatment of pigs and other animals at factory farms. The public will be unable to see the filthy, unnatural conditions pigs are kept in and the violence and neglect they face every day.
OK, California's not the worst place to be a pig. In fact, it was one of the first states to ban the use of gestation crates. But most of the pork sold in the state still comes from pigs whose mothers were imprisoned for years in these crates, enduring the boredom, frustration, and pain of extreme confinement.
Fortunately, a proposed ballot initiative could change all that by requiring that all animal products made or sold in the state come from animals who were not kept in cages. You can learn how to get involved by visiting www.PreventCrueltyCA.com.
The only meaningful difference between animals we consider companions and those we eat is our treatment of them. We can live our values of kindness and compassion by leaving these intelligent, sensitive creatures off our plates. Click here to get started.