The Pig Business Blog
Farms Not Factories’ Director Hails Closure of Chilean Pig Factory
Intro: Tracy Worcester, founder of Farms Not Factories and producer of the film Pig Business which exposes the dangers of intensive pig farming, has just returned from filming in Chile. Her visit coincided with the brutal suppression of a local protest against a huge factory pig farm owned by giant Chilean food conglomerate Agrosuper. On her return to the UK, it was reported that Agrosuper had announced it was going to permanently close the facility.
Faced with nationwide disgust at the violence against the protestors, and a statement by the Chilean Ministry of the Environment that Agrosuper would have to comply with environmental regulations, the company announced on December 10th that it had decided to ‘indefinitely close the agro-industrial complex’ and said it regretted recent events.
Tracy believes it’s not only a local success, but “also a victory in the global war against this flawed factory pig farming system.
“When investors see that communities have the power to close such a huge factory farm, they might think twice about expanding or building new ones.”
Last May the Chilean government ordered the factory to close after campaigners blockaded the site. However six months later it announced that after all the huge complex could stay open.
So in November I went to film the Freirina community’s renewed struggle against the largest pig factory farm in South America.
On 25th November, the date by which the Minister of Health had said all the pigs must leave the factory farm, it still housed 210,000 pigs. In protest hundreds of local residents dressed in mourning staged a funeral to mark the death of their valley.
A coffin followed by a candlelit procession was carried to the main square and set on fire. At midnight the main road was temporarily blocked by burning tyres and the night sky glowed red from a fire started in a eucalyptus plantation.
Then in the early morning of 6th December demonstrators set up blockades to prevent the Agrosuper feed lorries and workers reaching the complex. The government’s special forces, already waiting on Agrosuper’s property, attacked with military vehicles equipped with high volume teargas canons.
Before dawn, Yahir Rojas, a schoolteacher and one of the spokespersons for the community movement was illegally abducted and beaten unconscious by Agrosuper guards. He was rushed to intensive care and is thankfully recovering but the brutality of a company that resorts to violence against its opponents has shocked the nation and the world.
Triumph for an organised community
No doubt worried by this bad publicity but giving the reason of ‘being unable to fulfill environmental considerations’, Agrosuper is closing the plant and has already laid off 200 workers. Cesar Orellana, the newly elected Mayor of Freirina, said ‘This is a triumph for an organised community’,
Toxic stench engulfs the valley
With only a fraction of the proposed 2.5 million pigs in the sheds in the desert above Freirina, this industrial pig rearing complex has depleted the local water supply, and the inhabitants suffer illnesses caused by the toxic stench from biodegrading pig faeces that engulfs their picturesque valley.
The cost of intensive pig rearing is also paid by the animals. When visiting another of Agrosuper’s massive factory farm complexes 1,000 kilometres to the South in San Pedro, I climbed over a barbed wire fence to film rows and rows of pregnant pigs trapped in steel cages too narrow for them to turn around for their entire four month pregnancy.
Although these cages are banned in the UK, 50% of our pork is imported from the EU and Chile so pork we purchase is often raised in conditions like these.
Pig Business In Chile is a country specific version of Pig Business, the film that can be seen in 20 languages on the pigbusiness.co.uk web site. Pig Business in Romania was made earlier this year and Pig Business In Hungary, in Ecuador, in Latvia and in Ukraine are currently in production.
True cost of pig factory farming
The Pig Business films show politicians and consumers the true costs of pig factory farming to human health, surface and groundwater supplies, the mistreated pigs and deprived rural communities across the world.
Farms Not Factories is also campaigning against the proposed intensive pig factory at Foston, Derbyshire which, if built, would house 25,000 pigs and be one of the largest in the UK.
To compete with cheap imports, the UK’s pig lobby and government want pig farmers to get big or get out of the industry. If our government is so addicted to global free trade that it won’t protect our higher welfare pig farms from cheap imports, consumers in the UK could cut the corporate giants’ profits by buying pork with high welfare labels or buying locally reared pork from local butchers or farmers’ markets.
The proposed factory farm at Foston isn’t on the same scale as the Agrosuper unit in Freirina, but the consequences are as serious to the local community: appalling smells, potential flooding, damage to the environment, ill health and smaller scale sustainable farms going out of business.
Notes to editors
Photos available to download here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pigbusiness/sets/72157632210945161/
- Chile is the biggest exporter of pork to the EU (48% of total pork imports in 2010) Source
- Chile is the second largest pork producer in South America after Brazil.
- Chile’s per capita pork consumption is double that of Brazil.
- 40% of Chilean pork is exported.
- The main destinations are Japan, South Korea, the European Union and Mexico.
- During 2000-2006, the pork sector recorded a 473% growth in exports.
- Agrosuper is the largest pork company in Chile, controlling 68% of production.
- BBC report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-20635010
- Police shooting teargas at cameraman and protestors: http://youtu.be/_D-vGco2aLI
- Agrosuper Security illegally arrest Yahir Rojas and take him to Agrosuper facilities where he is beaten. He arrives unconscious at Vallenar Hospital and is later taken to San Pablo Hospital, in Coquimbo and remains in intensive care: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om1jyrxUwoo
- Chilean TV news report: http://www.meganoticias.cl/embed/?v=KACKd Translation text here:
- Police uses large amount of gas and personnel to reopen blockaded roads http://oclacc.org/noticia/obispo-copiapo-pedimos-dialogo-fin-violencia-freirina
- Water that pigs drinks contain 17 times the normal levels of mercury: http://ciperchile.cl/2012/12/06/freirina-dos-nuevos-estudios-cuestionan-calidad-de-las-aguas-que-beben-los-cerdos-de-agrosuper/
- Australian supermarkets just say „NO“ to factory farmed pork, in deference to „consumer sentiment“ (thebovine.wordpress.com)
- Lobbying in Brussels, the hidden costs of factory farming (lovecheeseandwine.wordpress.com)
- Animal Cruelty Doomed? (schweingehabt.wordpress.com)
- Chile firm shuts smelly pig plant (bbc.co.uk)
- Chile protests over smelly pigs (bbc.co.uk)
- COMMENT: Using film to square up to the horrors of factory farming (theecologist.org)