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Friday, July 25, 2008

Factory Farming Fakers Are At It Again

Chicken_1_2 Last month I wrote about the agribusiness interests opposing Proposition 2—masquerading as the deceptively named Californians for Safe Food—and their record of duping the public, harming animals, and polluting the environment. Their top funder to date, Moark LLC, paid to settle criminal cruelty charges for using a conveyor belt to throw live birds into a Dumpster. Another major backer, United Egg Producers, paid to settle false advertising allegations brought by 17 attorneys general related to misleading claims about animal welfare.

Yet another top contributor, Gemperle Enterprises, was exposed in an undercover investigation that showed birds with their wings and necks stuck in wire cages, and workers violently ripping birds out of cages without any regard for their welfare. The video even showed an employee swinging a bird around by her neck and throwing her against a wall, and another worker stomping on a hen and kicking her into a manure pit where she presumably drowned.

Apparently that sordid cast of characters wasn’t enough. Before you donate to the No on Prop 2 campaign, do you have to check a box that asks whether you or your company have been caught abusing animals, polluting the environment, or lying to consumers about animal welfare?

This week, residents of the Central Valley announced their intent to sue Olivera Egg Ranch over the toxic pollution coming from the facility. This giant factory farm confines 600,000 - 700,000 hens in cramped, barren, wire cages and dumps the manure into multi-acre cesspools that release more than 100 pounds of ammonia every day. Residents have complained of sore throats, upper respiratory infections, coughing, vomiting, and gagging attacks because of the noxious smell and pollution near their homes. Olivera, of course, has donated to the No on Prop 2 campaign.

The campaign got another injection of funds this week from Foster Farms, which dumped a quarter-million dollars into the fight. Foster has also been accused of making false claims about animal welfare in its advertising, and the Better Business Bureau referred the case to the Federal Trade Commission for review. 

The agribusiness giants are building their war chest, bankrolled almost entirely by corporate interests that put their profits ahead of animal welfare, the environment, and consumers. They are not only liars, but also outliers within their own industry.

The YES! On Prop 2 campaign, on the other hand, is backed by thousands of individual Californians, as well as respected groups like the Center for Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Union of Concerned Scientists, and California Veterinary Medical Association.

Don’t let the outliers dupe California voters. We need your help to get the word out to Californians up and down the state, and let them know the truth about factory farming. Watch this important new video about Prop 2, and then make a donation to support the campaign.

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