FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Price of Cheap Easter Eggs

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

Once again thousands of trapped animals have died from a factory farm fire.

250,000 hens at Ohio Fresh Eggs in Harpster died when firefighters “cut power to the chicken barns and ventilation systems to keep the flames from spreading,” say news reports.

Did the birds burn to death, suffocate from smoke inhalation or asphyxiate from barn fumes? Ohio Fresh Eggs says only the hens were “euthanized.” Their bodies will be sent to pet and animal feed processor G.A. Wintzer & Son Co. in Wapakoneta, says Bill Schwaderer of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Factory farms, in addition to their toxicity to workers, animals, the environment and food consumers, are fire bombs waiting to happen thanks to legions of animals packed over their own feces. Barns are so ammonified, Maine state officials required medical care after entering barns for a short period of time at a similar egg farm, Quality Egg in Turner, last year.

At Ohio Fresh Eggs, only eight employees were tending 16 barns when the fire was reported says the Coshocton Tribune. That’s one employee per 250,000 hens. (see: Agriculture Brings Jobs!) What kind of “care” can workers give animals in fume filled barns the size of football fields? Removing the dead and putting the half dead into kill carts, say those who’ve worked there.

Despite state operating permits which require a written emergency-response plan for such events, 225 firefighters had to battle the blaze for hours.

Accounts of animals burning to death on factory farms are as saddening as they are maddening. Witnesses at a Netley Hutterite Colony hog farm in Manitoba where 8,700 pigs perished in a 2008 fire reported hearing the animals’ “ear shattering” squeals and “screams.” Only six full-time employees tended the animals and bulldozers could not breach the factory farm manure pits. Fires at two other Hutterite Colonies, Vermillion Farms and Rainbow, both near Winnipeg, incinerated 8,500 pigs previously.

And speaking of repeat offenders, animals belonging to hog farmer Lynn Peters in Flora, Indiana perished in two fires, seven years apart. They were even in the same barn!

A year and a half after 5,000 trapped pigs burned to death at Holden Farms in Northfield, Minnesota, 400 sows and many piglets burned to death at its Dexter operation. Once again firemen couldn’t negotiate the factory farm’s confinement structure.

“Why were they keeping 6,500 pigs in one barn?” asked a blogger on Northfield.org soon afterward. “This reminds me of the Shepherd’s Way fire in February, 2005 [in which hundreds of sheep were killed] where no arrests were made in the arson.”

And hog farmers Jan and Nancy Pannekoek of Chilliwack, BC, have three hog farm fires to their name–and counting. Three strikes and you’re out–Not.

Nor have chickens escaped factory farm infernos. 160,000 laying hens burned to death at Green Valley Poultry Farm in Abingdon, Virginia in 2007, a facility which owner Rodney Wagner admitted was a fire trap.

Ohio Fresh Eggs, with poultry operations in Croton, Marseilles, Mount Victory and Goshen Township, is truly a Teflon farm with a long rap sheet of environmental and cruelty offenses it has beaten.

Accused for years of causing water pollution, manure spills and fly infestations so bad residents have to carry fly swatters in their own homes, the company is believed linked to career violator of Iowa environmental laws, Jack DeCoster. Yet the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s efforts to rescind Ohio Fresh Eggs’ environmental permits for failing to disclose DeCoster’s involvement with its operations were successfully appealed.

At undercover humane investigations at Ohio Fresh Eggs, hens have been documented enmeshed and dying in cage wires, in agonal breathing in trash cans and drowning in manure pools like so many oil spill victims.

The Ohio Fresh Eggs fire required the services of 225 firefighters from four counties and one million gallons of water, some from the Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area reservoir. Thank you tax payers!

Yet the company’s “Easter egg donation project should still go forward,” said Hinda Mitchell, Ohio Fresh Eggs spokeswoman in a goodwill gesture to future customers if not residents, tax payers, workers, the environment or animals.

Officials report no injuries from the fire nor has a cause been determined. Arson has been ruled out unless you count arson by factory farming.

WORDS THAT STICK

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
Charles R. Larson
A Review of Mary Roach’s “Grunt”
David Yearsley
Stuck in Houston on the Cusp of the Apocalypse
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail