New Mercy For Animals undercover investigation exposes horrific, cruel extreme confinement of pigs at U.S. farm

MAYWOOD, Nebraska (Aug. 5, 2023) — A major pig farm investigation by Mercy For Animals released today, August 5, exposes some of the most horrific animal cruelty ever made public. This comes as pro-pork lawmakers reintroduce the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act, a bill that failed to pass in 2021, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold farmed animal protections. 

This legislation, if passed, would negatively impact the vast majority of land animals raised for food in the United States and reverse decades of progress for hens, pigs, and calves. It would invalidate crucial anti-confinement laws in at least 14 states—including California, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Washington, and Ohio—and prevent other states from adopting similar policies in the future. 

“For decades, we have fought for basic protections for pigs—allowing mother pigs enough space to turn around and interact with their babies is hardly a radical reform,” said AJ Albrecht, managing director of Mercy For Animals in the United States and Canada. “And the vast majority of Americans surveyed agree, as does the European Union and other nations around the world that banned the archaic use of gestation crates years ago. Yet the U.S. pork industry has steadfastly refused to put compassion over corporate greed. Despite clear-cut state ballot initiatives and laws—and even a recent Supreme Court decision—the industry refuses to phase out cruel gestation crates.”

The investigation reveals horrific suffering of mother pigs:

— Lying in their own waste, often denied water and dehydrated, and dying in pain over many hours, having been forced through labor several times during their short lives.
— Enduring confinement in individual metal gestation crates, each barely larger than a pig’s body, while pregnant and unable to lie down comfortably or even turn around. 
— Suffering without proper veterinary care—some sick and injured pigs with bloody wounds from cage bars or exposed organs after labor.
— Giving birth directly into piles of feces in uncleaned pens and facing barn floors and animal feed infested with maggots and flies.

Consumers deserve to know where their pork comes from—the conditions animals are raised in and how producers treat them. Under the EATS Act, states could no longer require producers to share this information and would be restricted in regulating the treatment of farmed pigs. 

In 2021, nearly 129 million hogs were slaughtered in the United States alone—about four pigs a second. The United States produces 11% of the world’s pork, and in 2022, U.S. pork exports surpassed $7.7 billion in value. 

The latest data shows that Americans eat an annual 66.18 pounds of pork per capita. U.S. census data and the Simmons National Consumer Study found that 268 million Americans ate bacon in 2020, with over 16 million eating five pounds of bacon or more during the year. 

The fight to end factory farming faces a critical challenge. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA) are expected to sponsor the EATS Act. Support for the 2021–2022 version of the EATs Act suggests that additional co-sponsors could include Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), as well as nine House members from the Southeast and Midwest. 

“Pro-pork members of Congress have recently reintroduced the EATS Act as their latest attempt to undermine our progress and keep pigs in extreme confinement,” Albrecht continues. “Our undercover investigation footage shows what is at stake and puts a face on the harrowing reality that is life for the vast majority of pigs in the United States.”

The EATS Act directly conflicts, on several points, with the preferences of recently surveyed U.S. citizens and would further entrench factory farming.

Notes to Editors

For more information or to schedule an interview with AJ Albrecht, contact Ronnika A. McFall at [email protected].

Media resources:

Link to investigation website

Mercy For Animals is a leading international nonprofit working to end industrial animal agriculture by constructing a just and sustainable food system. Active in Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, and the United States, the organization has conducted more than 100 investigations of factory farms and slaughterhouses, influenced more than 500 corporate policies, and helped pass historic legislation to ban cages for farmed animals. Join us at