You know the holidays are upon us when PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is happy to share the gift of condemnation against the operators of a meat plant.
Merry Christmas from the local sheriff’s deputies that they hope to send your way.
The lucky recipient of the extremist group’s latest attack is Puget Sound Processing, a company based in Yelm, Wash, population 6,800, a little town in the western part of the state some 30 miles southeast of the capital of Olympia.
PETA is demanding that the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office conduct a criminal investigation into the operation after the company was cited by FSIS inspectors for violations of the Humane Slaughter Act.
In a news release, PETA also contended that workers at the facility violated Washington’s animal cruelty statute.
The group’s letter to the sheriff’s officer was signed by a Melissa Mary Wilson, an attorney, who wrote that, “I would like to request that your office investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Puget Sound Processing, LLC, and its worker(s) responsible for shooting a cow and two pigs up to five times, on three dates, at its slaughterhouse.”
The alleged incidents took place over the course of six months from April through October 2017. The company was cited by USDA twice in October in conjunction with the operation of a mobile processing unit managed by Puget Sound Processing and owned by the Pierce County Conservation District.
Allegedly, a worker shot a cow five times before it became unconscious. In another instance, a worker shot a pig in the head, rupturing its eyeball; about a minute passed before the worker shot the pig again, rendering it unconscious.
Earlier, a worker attempting to shoot a pig missed entirely, hitting the ground, which resulted in debris hitting two other workers, according to USDA.
The company’s operations were suspended in late October, but the suspension was lifted last month.
A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office said the case would be assigned to animal cruelty investigators.
Changes in Training
Nobody condones incompetence at any type of processing plant, especially when it causes unnecessary harm to livestock. That’s unacceptable, even if it occurs with the operation of a mobile processing unit that doesn’t have the usual infrastructure for restraining and stunning animals.
In a statement to The Olympian newspaper this week, a Puget Sound Processing representative said the company “has made changes” since the suspension.
“Once suspended, PSP re-evaluated our procedures [and] made changes and process improvements, which included training from experts in our field of operations, equipment upgrades and new equipment,” the statement read.
Here’s what isn’t mentioned in media reports.
First of all, mobile units serve small-scale farms and ranchers located in rural areas without access to a packing plant. For all the talk of family farms, and rural sustainability — and the denigration of “industrial farming” that PETA and its ilk love to hate — without some way to bring their livestock to market, small producers and ranchers cannot sustain their operations.
Try making a living on 40 acres raising corn or beans or wheat. One of the very few ways to turn a profit on smaller farms these days is to tap into the market for grassfed beef and pastured pork. That’s where I buy my meat, because I believe it’s crucial for both farmland and grasslands to stay in agricultural production.
Does that excuse the actions of the Puget Sound Processing workers? No, but that operation needs to be evaluated in the context of its value to agriculture in Washington.
What’s really galling is that I can guarantee that neither Ms. Wilson nor anyone else at PETA ever set foot within 500 miles of this company and the farm country where it does business. Nor did they bother to talk to any of the farmers whose animals were processed by the company.
PETA people sit in their offices in D.C., read a bunch of reports from USDA, and proclaim that all people connected in any way with livestock production are monsters, and that isolated incidents such as the ones described above are proof positive that the entire profession of animal husbandry is an abomination.
PETA condemns a company trying to help small farmers stay competitive in the face of agricultural consolidation, but they’ll eagerly jockey their priorities to support the development of plant-based factory foods if it can put some cash into its coffers.
They’ll heap scorn on famers who care for livestock, while pretending that they’re in the business of “rescuing” a few of them as showpieces for their campaigning. And they attack honest farmers and the companies that service them while staying as far away as possible from the hard work involved in food production.
Their behavior is far more reprehensible than that of the low-wage workers they so arrogantly condemn.
Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.