Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rosewood Farms: Pig Abuse (2013)

Pipestone System logo

In 2013 one of Pipestone Systems pork producers, Rosewood Farms, were caught for mistreating their pigs. The Pipestone Systems are pork suppliers for Walmart's all across the country. Pipestone Systems place of business resides in Pipestone, Minnesota. On October 9th, 2013 there was a complaint filed by a nonprofit organization for animals called Mercy For Animals. Someone working for the nonprofit organization uncovered video footage of the farm mistreating their pigs. There was video footage of the pigs being treated viciously. The video footage shows many horrific images among which including pregnant pigs being confined in very tight pens, pigs being punched and kicked, as well as piglets being thrown on their heads. The Pipestone county police did investigate a search of the facilities but were not able to find any mistreatment of the animals. However, this does not mean that mistreatment of the pigs did not exist. The lead investigator of Mercy For Animals is Matt Rice, who posed as a worker of the farm for a total of ten weeks. He reported that the pigs were left in terrible condition. Rice stated that "Pregnant pigs are confined in tiny metal crates that are just barely big enough to hold them. They're basically immobile for their entire lives. They can't turn around, they can't lie down comfortably, and they suffer from large open wounds and pressure sores from rubbing against the bars." (Mosbergen) The way these pigs are treated is horrific and unfathomable. The stakeholders in this case include Walmart, as well as the customers that shop for pork at Walmart. Many companies such as Kroger, McDonalds, Subway, Costco, and Kmart have refused to work with pork suppliers that treat their pigs like this. Walmart has not yet put any such policy in place. The way in which Rosewood Farms have treated their animals is extremely unethical.

Rosewood Farms pigs, packed tightly into their pen

An individualist believes that a business is responsible for maximizing profits, as long as they are abiding by all laws. In the case of Rosewood Farms, they are attempting to maximize products by cramming as many pigs as they can into small pens and then slaughtering them in improper ways. Rosewood Farms is acting irresponsibly by not taking care of their pigs properly. There was a thorough investigation of the farm and no wrongful treatment was found. Therefore, no charges were filed against the company. The issue is that there are no federal laws abiding the misuse of farm animals. Although most Americans would agree that it is immoral, many states have common farming exemptions. This means that even though certain farm practices are viewed as inhumane, they can be considered standard policy in the farming world. Since the majority of Americans are greatly offended by the mistreatment of any animals, it is extremely immoral that the farms are treating their pigs this way. This accusation has not significantly affected Rosewood Farms because Walmart is still continuing their business and no charges have been filed against them. However, companies such as Kroger, McDonalds, Subway, Costco, and Kmart have refused to work with them any longer, therefore cutting their profits. Rosewood Farms could fix this issue by admitting to the mistakes they have made and providing safer conditions for their pigs. This would be effective because the stakeholders would have more respect for the company and would be able to trust the company if they were able to prove that they have changed the living conditions for their pigs.

Utilitarianism is the moral theory that focuses on maximizing the happiness of individuals. Rosewood Farms has not abided by this theory because they are being extremely selfish and are treating their pigs in an awful way just to maximize profits. Many individuals eating these products would be disgusted if they knew how the pigs were treated. Rosewood Farms are not focusing on increasing the happiness of individuals because if the consumers knew of the pigs living conditions, they would most likely be very angry. Walmart is still continuing business with the pork producers, which is very questionable because they are aware of the mistreatment taking place at the farm. One could argue that Walmart is being unethical by not discontinuing business with Pipestone Systems. Since Pipestone Systems are not Walmart's only pork producers, Walmart's profits would not be cut by a significant amount. If Pipestone Systems were not willing to take action against Rosewood Farms and the animals living conditions, it would be wise of Walmart to discontinue their business with the company. If Rosewood Farms were willing to change the animals living conditions, Walmart could continue business with them.
Part of the video below; a pig packed into a tight cage

Kantianism is concerned with treating all beings rationally and with respect. The Kantian view "emphasizes first, allowing and helping people to make rational decisions and second, from having a motivation from what Kant calls the 'good will', which means that your motivation is from duty and is not simply self seeking." (Salazar) In the case of Rosewood Farms, they are not acting with duty and are very self seeking. It is their duty to treat all autonomous beings with respect and they are clearly not doing so by abusing these helpless pigs. They are also being very deceptive by treating the pigs in this way because most people are not aware of these wrongdoings, unless they very commonly keep up with current events and news. Even at that point, they still may not have become aware of these events. Kant would disagree with the actions of the farm because they would claim that the farm is being extremely selfish. The correct motivation would be to provide the pigs with safe living conditions and proper care. It is the companies duty to treat the animals rightfully before they are slaughtered and then processed for consumers. Rosewood Farms could fix their mistakes if they begun to make rational decisions based on their duty to their consumers.

Virtue TheoryVirtue theory focuses on what makes a moral and righteous life. Motivation must be genuine and be for the benefit of the greater good. The four virtues in business ethics are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Courage would mean that the company is taking a stand to make their actions moral. Rosewood Farms did not act with courage because they have denied all allegations of abuse to the pigs. They have not admitted to the terrible living conditions even though they have been caught on camera. Temperance means that justice must be fair and reasonable while providing quality products. Rosewood Farms did not act in this sense because the products that they were producing were a result of abused pigs. They were not honest because many consumers did not know of this when buying the product.

So far, no actions have been taken against Rosewood Farms except for one worker being fired for wrongful treatment of the pigs. The video from Mercy allowed a judge to issue a warrant for a search of the property but no charges were filed. Rosewood Farms has not confirmed any allegations, but the main branch, Pipestone Systems, have claimed that they will look further into the case. Walmart has also agreed that they are going to look further into the case. No justice has yet been served.

Video of the Abuse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYitStpoW1E


Mosbergen, Dominique. "Walmart Pork Supplier Allegedly Caught Abusing Pigs In Graphic Undercover Video." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.

Flynn, Dan. "Food Safety News." Food Safety News. N.p., 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 01 Apr. 2014.

Salazar, Heather. "Kantian Business Ethics." 31 March. 2014.

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