April 24th, 2020 Newsletter

Decades of Crimes by Giant US Pig Factory, Smithfield Foods, Have Come Home to Haunt Them

A factory farm near Wieckowice in Poland, owned by US pork giant Smithfield Foods, the biggest pig factory farming corporation in the world, has been infected with African Swine Fever. The Guardian reported on 8th April 2020 that over 10,000 piglets on the farm would be culled.

I went to Wieckowice to film my (2009) Channel 4 documentary Pig Business where I met local residents and workers suffering from respiratory, neural and intestinal diseases because of toxic emissions from this very same pig factory that has closed today. I climbed factory farm perimeter fences to film suffering pigs and interviewed Smithfield Foods’ US lawyer and local directors, EU bankers and EU bureaucrats to hear their excuses for their destruction of rural culture, health and economies.

Meanwhile on 16 April 2020, 700+ workers at a Smithfield Foods processing plant in South Dakota, were tested positive for COVID-19, representing 55% of all confirmed cases in the state.

In this uncensored version of the 2009 film Pig Business you will hear pork processing workers describing their cramped, dangerous and unsanitary conditions in Smithfield’s slaughter and packing plant at Tar Heel, North Carolina. Though most of the meat is now sent to China and the workers have union representation, most of the workers are undocumented migrants whose rights are undermined. So it is not surprising that during this pandemic Tar Heel is still open and slaughtering 34,000 pigs per day.

In 2009, the censored version of Pig Business was broadcast by Channel 4. We have now posted the uncensored film that includes footage of local doctors, workers and of Robert F Kennedy Jr that had to be taken out of the Channel 4 broadcast version because of threats of defamation from Smithfield Foods.

The competitive imperative for livestock farms to ‘get big or get out of the industry’ is threatening the health of people, animals and ecosystems around the world. What hope of curbing the possible vector of viruses in the UK if pig and poultry factory farms continue to grow ever bigger?

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