Video footage released by the animal welfare group Mercy for Animals this morning shows more horrific cruelty to birds at a Butterball turkey facility in Raeford, N.C.
And although much of the ag-gag language was pulled from S648 in an amendment, including a provision where whistleblowers could be punished for exposing animal abuse and their documentation rendered inadmissible in court, MFA’s director of investigations says the group “has it on good authority” that the bill’s sponsor is trying to incorporate that language in another bill that could be rushed through this session.
Butterball is responsible for 20 percent of the 252 million turkeys killed in the United States each year. The hatchery in Raeford processes more than 300,000 turkeys per week, according to Mercy for Animals.
The video footage shows baby birds being mutilated without painkillers, ground up alive in macerating machines and thrown, dropped and mishandled by factory workers.
MFA turned over the footage to local law enforcement, which has launched an animal cruelty investigation and is considering pressing charges.
A statement from Butterball said the company launched its own investigation into animal abuse at the facility and concluded that the video showed “no willful acts of neglect and malice” and that the alleged abuse was “industry standard.”
In 2011, a MFA undercover investigation caught workers kicking and stomping turkeys and bashing birds’ heads with metal pipes. Five workers were convicted of felony and misdemeanor animal abuse.
The group is lobbying to improve factory conditions for turkeys. They want video cameras in factories, live streaming to the Internet so workers are constantly monitored and held accountable.
“This investigation graphically illustrates that a culture of cruelty and abuse continues to run rampant at Butterball facilities,” said MFA’s executive director Nathan Runkle. “Lawmakers should be focusing on strengthening the state’s animal protection laws and cracking down on repeat offenders like Butterball, not making animal abuse harder to expose.”
Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Duplin, sponsored the ag-gag language in the Commerce Protection Act. He said he was disappointed it was removed from S648 and would try to get it through in another bill.
You can view MFA’s new undercover video here. The content is disturbing.