In March 2022, there was an outbreak of “highly pathogenic avian influenza” (HPAI) at Rembrandt Foods, one of the world's largest in-line egg producing facilities. The farm, owned by billionaire Glen Taylor, decided to kill all of its 5.3 million birds through a horrific mass killing method known as "ventilation shutdown plus" (VSD+), whereby ventilation openings in the industrial sheds full of birds are closed, and some combination of heat, steam and/or carbon dioxide gas are introduced, eventually killing the animals via suffocation. VSD+ has been widely criticized as inhumane by animal welfare organizations.
DxE investigators went to Rembrandt in March 2022 to document the reality of 5.3 million chickens being killed.
Investigators discovered some birds survived the VSD+ process -- still in cages, running loose in the sheds, even buried alive.
Billionaire businessman Glen Taylor also notably owns the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA team, as well as Minnesota’s largest newspaper. In response to the investigation, protestors have been disrupting Minnesota Timberwolves NBA games with the message "GLEN TAYLOR ROASTS ANIMALS ALIVE."
Disease outbreaks such as HPAI, as well as deadly diseases in humans, are an inevitable result of intensive confinement of animals, says Dr. Mike Martin, a professor in University of California San Francisco’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. "We are risking our health when we cram chickens together in commercial poultry facilities like Rembrandt."
Yet despite the animal welfare and public health issues, this business model is not just permitted but actively funded by the federal government. Taylor received $11.3 million in USDA subsidies when this same site had an HPAI outbreak in 2015, and is set to receive millions more for this one (as authorized by The Animal Health Protection Act, and reiterated by USDA public releases in January and on Saturday).
DxE is calling on Glen Taylor to donate all HPAI-related subsidies he received to public health charities and animal sanctuaries and commit to not taking any such funds in relation to the recent outbreak and mass killing. DxE is saying the NBA is no place for abusive factory farmers and also asking that the sale of the Timberwolves team -- set to transfer majority ownership to baseball hall-of-famer Alex Rodriquez and businessman Marc Lore in 2023 -- be expedited, with Taylor immediately stepping down from day-to-day operations.
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