Demonstrators protest alleged worker, animal abuses at Foster Farms facility

California

Warning: Details described in this story are graphic.

LIVINGSTON, Calif. (KTXL) — A large group of animal rights activists disrupted operations at a Foster Farms facility in Livingston for hours Tuesday.

Demonstrators chained themselves together on top of a moving truck, blocking traffic in and out of the chicken processing plant. Eleven were arrested.

More than a hundred animal activists with the group Direct Action Everywhere flocked to Livingston to protest what they said are abuses of the chickens processed at the facility and the people working there.

“Foster Farms has a long history of animal cruelty, environmental violations and worker abuses,” said Samantha Eachus, a press coordinator with Direct Action Everywhere.

“We’re drawing attention to this facility to ask the governor to pass a moratorium on the expansion of factory farms and slaughterhouses,” she continued.

Foster Farms sent a statement to FOX40 before Merced County deputies physically removed some demonstrators.

The Direct Action Everywhere activists are blocking private property and represent a safety hazard to vehicular traffic and our employees. We are working with law enforcement to safely resolve the situation.

Ira Brill, Vice President of Communications for Foster Farms

“We are just trying to make a better life for everybody,” said activist Susana Chavez.

Deputies said most protesters were peaceful and that animal rights groups have targeted the same facility several times in the past.

Direct Action Everywhere said activists with their group placed hidden cameras inside the facility, which they claimed show illegal animal abuses and workers’ rights violations. 

“The undercover footage that we’ve obtained is absolutely gruesome,” Eachus described. “It documents chickens missing the electrified water bath that stuns them before the blade slits their neck, and it also documents chickens that have missed the blade entirely and have their heads pulled off by the machinery.”

FOX40 viewed the video but decided not to show it because we could not confirm how it was obtained. 

“Personally, I was absolutely disturbed by the footage. I grew up on a farm, and so I’m not immune to the idea that animals need to be killed for food, but the footage that we observed here is absolutely beyond the pale,” Eachus said.

The group showed their anger at Foster Farms in other ways. They shared a video of protesters taking two live chickens from the back of a truck outside the plant. 

“They do not care about the workers, they do not care about the animals,” Chavez said.

Several roads remained blocked off Tuesday night. Deputies said they would be out there for however long protesters were present.

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