Published on
June 29, 2020

Breaking: Gruesome Footage Shows Pigs Roasted Alive At Iowa’s Leading Pork Supplier Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Workers forced to kill thousands of pigs with extreme heat and steam
Thousands of dead and dying Iowa Select Farm pigs just after “ventilation shutdown” on May 19 (Credit: Direct Action Everywhere)
Thousands of dead and dying Iowa Select Farm pigs just after “ventilation shutdown” on May 19
(Credit: Direct Action Everywhere)

MAY 28, 2020, GRUNDY COUNTY, IA - A month-long investigation by the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), in collaboration with Iowa Select Farms (ISF) employee whistleblowers, has exposed pigs shrieking in agony as they’re blasted with steam and heat exceeding 140 degrees in a barn with the ventilation ports closed. It’s a process animal agriculture industry insiders call “Ventilation Shutdown” or VSD, which DxE captured on hidden camera video. 2-3 hours into the process, workers carrying bolt guns open the doors and can be seen walking through the barn, glancing side-to-side and shooting pigs exhibiting obvious signs of life.

Investigators say this cruelty is a violation of Iowa state law, citing a legal opinion from a former federal prosecutor, as well as a veterinary opinion.

Industry veterinarians, ISF internal communications, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office contend that the practice is not only lawful but humane, but activists say these opinions have been unduly influenced by corporate lobbying. Moreover, an ISF whistleblower (“David”) says the choice to use VSD was one driven by profit; it’s cheaper to kill pigs on-site than to send them elsewhere to be killed.

DxE investigators submitted a criminal livestock neglect complaint to the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department, only to themselves be charged with trespassing at the request of Iowa Select Farms.

In consideration of the COVID-19 outbreak and other biosecurity concerns, DxE investigators followed veterinarian-approved biosecurity protocols while in the presence of live pigs in ISF facilities.

The DxE team’s lead investigator, native Iowan Matt Johnson, previously led an investigation of a Mahaska County pig farm owned by Iowa State Senator Ken Rozenboom. After the investigation was released in January, ISF posted a flyer at company facilities which tells employees (in Spanish) to contact a manager if Johnson is seen, and that “If he walks in, we’re fucked.”  But this had an unintended consequence. David saw the Rozenboom investigation and reached out to Johnson and DxE with concerns about criminal animal cruelty occurring at ISF factory farms.

(DxE encourages industry workers, government employees, or anybody at all to submit testimony and evidence of industry misconduct at Whistleblower anonymity will absolutely be respected unless explicitly authorized otherwise.)

DxE says Iowans are opposed to industry abuses, but are denied truthful information by the animal agriculture’s corrupting influence over our political system. And they say ISF is a prime example. Company owners Jeff and Deb Hansen and their son Michael have contributed over $300,000 to the campaign of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, maintaining a cozy relationship with the state’s top official. Reynolds last year signed the state’s latest “ag-gag” statute into law, despite widespread public opposition, within just weeks of taking office.

But Johnson says people everywhere are wising up.

“An element of good that has emerged from the ravages of COVID-19, and of this investigation, is that the longstanding systemic abuses of animal agriculture have been openly exposed for the world to see,” he said. “It's a catastrophe for animals, workers, the environment, and public health, and now even the industry’s own workforce is rising up against it.”

David agrees, citing his own growing concerns over company misconduct.

“It was affecting me more and more every day -- feeling the compassion and empathy for these animals that we were working with every day,” he said.

As part of its #CancelAnimalAg campaign, DxE is calling on Governor Reynolds and government officials everywhere to address the impact of animal agriculture amid the coronavirus crisis. Rather than doubling-down with subsidies to continue propping up the industry, activists are calling for an end to the devastation once and for all.

Johnson said, “When we have a system that is fundamentally broken -- with government reinforcing, rather than regulating, an abusive industry which only serves those at the very top -- it’s left to ordinary people to take action ourselves and hold our elected officials accountable to the will of the people.”

Investigators with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) enter farms, slaughterhouses, and other agricultural facilities to document abuses and rescue sick and injured animals. DxE’s investigatory work has been featured in The New York Times, ABC Nightline, and a viral Glenn Greenwald exposé. DxE activists led the 2019 grassroots effort to ban fur products in California. Activists have been subjected to FBI raids and felony prosecutions for these investigations and rescues. Visit Direct Action Everywhere on Facebook, at and on Twitter @DxEverywhere.

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