Babe 2: Undercover Boogaloo?


Here we go again. Tomorrow the Humane Society of the United States will show off its creative video editing abilities again. This time, it’s apparently some footage shot at a Virginia hog farm.

Do we need to remind you what this is all about and how HSUS pulls this scam time and time again? Okay, let’s review. (There’s no reason to believe tomorrow will be any different, aside from the video having been shot on a hog farm instead of an egg farm.)

Four weeks ago HSUS unveiled a brief schlock-u-mentary film from a Texas egg farm that its staffer, Tony Guillen-Guzman, infiltrated for 28 days. The video itself was dimly lit, grainy, ridiculously short (less than two minutes long), and timed to coincide with HSUS’s scientifically illiterate views about salmonella rates in chicken flocks. As everyone expected, it only included frames that HSUS’s animal-rights leaders wanted us to see. (Remember: The people who commissioned and edited the film won’t eat bacon or eggs no matter how humanely it’s raised.)

Feedstuffs reporter Rod Smith saw the HSUS egg farm video like the rest of us, but he did something very few reporters bother to do: He went to the farm to see things for himself. Here’s some of what he found, and what HSUS apparently wanted to hide from everyone:

One thing Guzman did not do well — which is now obvious — was to honor his word that he would correct and/or report any conditions that were adverse to the health and welfare of the hens in the houses. He made this commitment as a condition of employment when he signed a "code of conduct." …

Contrary to what the video showed, the [hen] houses were airy, bright and clean; we did not find cages in disrepair with birds trapped by wires; we did not find hens with bloody claws; we did not find hens with prolapsed uteruses, and we did not find dead hens …

[Production Supervisor Dan] Sullivan said farm workers are in the houses every day: a head housekeeper is responsible for two houses and four housekeepers are each responsible for four houses, two men walk the houses with blowers to keep the floors clean and there's a crew of six maintenance people, three utility workers and other staff who are in and out of the buildings …

Sullivan noted that nine of the workers have radios and that Guzman could have easily found someone with a radio to relay any message regarding any matter about which he was concerned.

Guzman was at the farm for 28 days and never reported one animal abuse or welfare problem, which "makes us think he couldn't find something," Cal-Maine regional manager David Jenkins said.

The only good thing about how prolific HSUS’s creative film-editing division has become is that maybe, just maybe the media will start showing signs of “issue fatigue” and stop showing up. We saw hints of this last month when hardly anyone showed up to ask questions at Wayne Pacelle’s press conference.

Below is today’s HSUS “Media Advisory.” Note the “pants on fire” moment at the end, where HSUS is still claiming to have “11 million” active supporters.

A note for journalists considering covering tomorrow’s HSUS festivities: At least consider doing what Rod Smith did. Ask some hard questions. Go to the farm and see if reality matches up with the spoon-fed propaganda.

If you don’t see things for yourself, you’re a stenographer, not a reporter.

DECEMBER 14, 2010

The Humane Society of the United States to Release New Undercover Investigation Revealing Inhumane Treatment of Animals at Virginia Factory Farm

WHAT: Press conference to announce findings from an undercover investigation into a major national agribusiness producer. The Humane Society of the United States documented widespread abuse of animals despite producer’s public statements committing to improvements in animal welfare. 

WHO: Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS                       

WHERE: The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

Or by teleconference. RSVP to Martin Montorfano, 301-258-3152 or [email protected]

WHEN: 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 

VISUALS: Undercover video footage of Virginia factory farm conditions. Large display photos of conditions inside the Virginia factory farm. Press packets to include: investigation summary, fact sheet on gestation crates (in full-color), hard copy photos, white paper detailing the scientific evidence of gestation crates’ animal welfare problems, and the undercover video footage.

Media contactErin Williams, 301-721-6446, [email protected]

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs.