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Major Pork Producer Promises Investigation into Abuse Allegations

By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief

A major Nebraska pork producer promises swift action, as an animal rights group releases undercover video showing allegations of abuse.

Pigs squeal in the undercover video released by the Animal Legal Defense Fund that claims abuse on the part of The Maschoffs, one of the top names in pig farming.

Attorney Chris Berry of the ALDF said, "Failing to provide adequate food and veterinary care to the pigs, specifically by allowing several pigs to suffer with medical ailments far behind the time they should have been euthanized."

The Maschoffs have facilities across the state including several in central Nebraska, but declined to identify where this may have happened. The ALDF also declined that information.

The Illinois based Mascoffs is among 50,000 pork producers who have agreed to what the industry calls the highest standards.

Dr. Dave Pyburn, a veterinarian on staff with the National Pork Board said producers have ethical standards they live by.

"Stating they have both a moral and ethical obligation to protect and promote animal well-being for animals that are within their care," Pyburn said.

Video appears to show employees smashing piglets against the floor and unsuccessful attempts to euthanize sick animals. Pyburn, of the National Pork Board is not specifically commenting on this case, but says allegations like these are out of line with the way pork-raising standards.

When there are sick animals, he said producers are trained at "recognizing animals that are beyond being treated back to health, those animals need to be humanely euthanized quickly.

The Pork Board says consumers should have confidence their ham and bacon is raised with care, and that they don't put up with abuse.

Pyburn said, "Unfortunately there are times we have instances where we see things that need to be fixed. And when we see that, our producers move quickly to fix those things."

In a statement, The Maschoffs said they have zero tolerance for abuse or mistreatment and this is no exception.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund released the video with animals that appear to have large wounds and other problems.The group says it's a pattern of abuse and they want the attorney general to act.

Berry, the attorney for the ALDF said, "We believe there's ample reason to investigate frankly all The Maschoffs facilities."

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Doug Peterson said they do not comment in cases like this, if there is an investigation underway or not.

Meat packing giant Hormel issued a statement, saying it sent third party auditors to locations operated by The Maschoffs

Full statement from The Maschoffs:

Earlier today, The Maschhoffs became aware of an undercover video taken at one of our sow farms in Nebraska by the Animal Legal Defense Fund--showing alleged instances of animal abuse. The Maschhoffs has long been a successful supplier to U.S. pork packers and processors.

Our animal welfare policy is straightforward – we have zero tolerance for any abuse or mistreatment of our pigs. And this instance is no exception.

“As a family-owned, long-standing hog production company, we recognize our ethical obligation to provide for the wellbeing and humane care of our animals as do our customers,” says President Bradley Wolter. “To that end, we are investigating these allegations and will take immediate and swift corrective actions to address them, including fully cooperating with authorities in any criminal investigation.”

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