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October 14, 2008

Sick Standards

Yesterday's blog previewed a devastating investigative report aired last night by Dan Noyes of the I-Team at KGO-TV in San Francisco. Dan worked with the group Mercy for Animals in breaking the investigation of Norco, the largest egg factory farm in the state that is operated by the top contributor to the No on Proposition 2 campaign.

The Los Angeles Times broke the story in print, and here's the major story in today's paper.

Hen trapped in battery cage from Mercy for Animals investigation at Norco Ranch
© Mercy for Animals
A hen at Norco is lodged near the egg collection belt.

So here's what we know. Moark, LLC, which oversees Norco, is the largest funder to the No on 2 campaign—the two companies combined have made donations of more than $850,000. Norco has 8 million birds in confinement—about 40 percent of the caged hens in California. The No on 2 campaign has been chiming in for months saying what clean, humane, and state-of-the-art battery cage operations they run in California; the factory farms even named themselves Californians for Safe Food. Based on incontrovertible video evidence obtained during the last two months, and as shown by KGO-TV last night and to be released statewide today, Norco is guilty of appalling abuse and neglect of laying hens.

The spokesperson for the No on 2 campaign apparently has no problem with what she saw on television—hens jammed six or eight to a cage, animals with open wounds in their cages, animals with body parts trapped in the caging or in the conveyor belt, workers twisting the necks and heads of the animals they want to discard and then leaving writhing animals to languish and suffer on dead piles. She told the Los Angeles Times, "The inspection report notes that the ranch's proper handling of hens was appropriate, conforms to industry-accepted standards and found the ranch to be in 'excellent' standing."

It sounds just like the talking heads at the Hallmark/Westland plant after an HSUS undercover investigator documented their appalling abuses of downer cows. Hallmark/Westland was USDA's "Supplier of the Year" in 2005 and the plant got glowing reports from USDA inspectors and the third-party auditors they hired. But the house of cards blew over when there was an honest assessment. And video doesn't lie.

So here we are today. The opponents of Prop 2 have told us all along that the egg factories have top-notch facilities. I guess we now know what their standards are.

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