Nations largest pig farm exposed, two face criminal charges
ST. GEORGE, Utah — A jury selection is underway after two activists filmed their theft of dying piglets from Utah’s Circle Four Farm in an attempt to save them.
Advocates are calling it a landmark case to establish the “Right to Rescue” animals in distress.
Animal rights activists Paul Darwin Picklesimer and a former Northwestern Law visiting professor Wayne Hsiung, both face felony burglary and theft charges, which could lead to a possible 10-plus year prison sentence.
According to a press release, the sentence comes after they filmed their theft of two dying piglets from the nation’s largest pig farm. The farm, owned by Smithfield Foods, a subsidiary of China’s WH Group, has been under investigation.
The farm is accused of misleading consumers about its inhumane treatment of animals. The specific foul treatment among many is the apparent use of 2 by 7 feet pregnancy crates for female pigs.
Picklesimer and Hsiung went to the farm to investigate the crates, despite the company’s promise to end the practice. Smithfield has faced legal action due to misleading consumers. According to a press release, it has sparked nationwide protests against Costco, a Smithfield Foods buyer.
Findings on the pig farm
After entering the farm, the two men claimed to find dying and deceased piglets. Video evidence shows the piglets were laying in piles of blood and feces.
According to Matt Johnson of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), the video is barred from court. It was ruled the video and any other evidence of the animal’s condition would be too horrific for jurors.
Picklesimer and Hsiang say this ruling violates their constitutional rights in the press release and, “is part of a broader pattern of undue corporate influence.”
This comes after the FBI used a substantial amount of resources to hunt for the piglets across state lines.
The two suspects along with their supporters feel consumers don’t know what is happening within the systems of the meat and factory farm industry. They say with their ruling, the court is contributing to the ignorance.
The trial will take place in Washington County on Monday. According to Johnson, the trial was moved as over 200 supporters are expected to attend trial and activists faced threats of violence and intimidation from local authorities.
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