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What Does the Mass Slaughter of 500,000 Pigs in Chile Have to Do with the U.S. Farm Bill?

Whether you are a die-hard carnivore or a card-carrying member of an animal welfare organization, this story will affect you. And it ties into work we’re doing to demand a fair farm bill that “busts” the meat trusts that built the factory farm system.

In Chile, a conflict erupted when local residents escalated months of protests over the smells and pollution emanating from a factory farm in their town. The conflict ended with the facility’s employees fleeing—with half a million pigs left there over five days without food or water. The plant has been shut down, and those pigs—the ones that remain—will be slaughtered en masse.

Why were half a million pigs concentrated into this factory in the first place? It’s no secret that the U.S. has exported its factory farm model around the world. And U.S. agricultural policies have helped meat processors get even bigger, consolidating meat production in the hands of these few giant players who use animals from factory farms. (Check out our Factory Farm Map to learn more about how meat production has become more consolidated in the U.S.)

Right now, the biggest four meatpackers slaughter four out of five cattle and two out of three hogs in the U.S. These meatpackers—Tyson, Cargill, Smithfield Foods and JBS Swift—use their immense market power to squeeze profits out of independent farmers, pushing them out of business.

Addressing the power of the biggest meatpackers is essential to rebuilding local food systems and putting the brakes on the public health, environmental, and animal welfare problems associated with factory farms. A first step in leveling the playing field for small and mid-sized farmers is to stop meat companies from manipulating the prices they pay for livestock.

That’s why we’re spreading the word about an amendment to the Senate Farm Bill introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) to ban big meat processors from owning livestock. The “packer ban” amendment is one key policy prescription for helping to reverse the trend towards consolidated factory farms, at least here in the U.S.

Think you can’t do anything about factory farms? Think again—and sign our petition telling your Senator to support the Packer Ban amendment to the Farm Bill.

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Darcey Rakestraw

Darcey Rakestraw is communications director at Food & Water Watch. She has over 10 years of experience in media relations and communications, working on a variety of global issues in non-profit, for-profit, and governmental organizations.

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