The screams of a thousand mothers are shattering my ears as I stand in the middle of one of the largest pig farms in the world. The mothers are banging their heads against the cage doors and shrieking to be released from the crates which, at 2 x 7 feet, are too small for them to turn around. This is all happening at a pig farm that, earlier this year, claimed that it had effectively ended the use of cruel “gestation crates.” But as the Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) Open Rescue Team found, crates are far from gone.
As we walk through the pens, it’s so loud I can’t even hear myself think. But we keep moving because we know our mission ― exposing the horror and deception at Smithfield, the largest pig processor in the world ― is vital. And as we document the happenings at Circle Four Farms in Milford, Utah, we realize that things are far worse than even we had believed.
The first hint of this was our discovery that Smithfield had been implicated in a scandal involving human slavery. A labor contractor hired by Smithfield tricked workers from Asia into coming to the United States with the promise of a better life. By signing over the deed to their village homes, the workers were able to secure passage to the West. They were promised wages that would be 10 times higher. But it was all a lie. The immigrants faced dismal work conditions, cramped rooms where they lived four to a bed, and a complete loss of their most basic freedoms. Shortly after arriving, they stopped being paid, and they were threatened with guns if they attempted to leave the compound to obtain help. Some workers were trapped this way for years.
While the company denies responsibility for this episode (which was exposed when a few workers escaped and called the authorities) those…