Once again, the I-Team visits the egg farm. Several times over the years, we’ve shown you how the vast majority of eggs in this country are produced – in battery cages with six to eight hens crowded into a single, small cage. The animal rights group “Mercy for Animals” sent an investigator with a hidden camera to Norco Ranch in Menifee. The investigator got a job there for five weeks during August and September, and documented the conditions. In addition to the cramped cages, he saw sick and injured hens and workers twirling hens by their necks to kill them – what the president of the company told me today is a violation of company policy.
The undercover video is part of a pre-election push for Prop 2, the measure to improve conditions for farm animals. It targets battery cages for egg-laying hens, gestation crates for pigs, and veal crates for calves. Prop 2 would “prohibit the cruel confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs." You can read more on the Prop 2 campaign here, and information from the “No on Prop 2” camp here.
The undercover investigator kept a diary during his time at Norco Ranch. You can see it and more of his undercover video here.
Land O’ Lakes is the parent company of Moark LLC, which runs Norco Ranch. Moark President and CEO Craig Willardson told me the video doesn’t capture the entirety of the Norco Ranch operation – that the company has standards for the humane treatment of hens, and workers sign a code of conduct. Willardson is concerned about some of the issues raised by the video. He says he’s launching an investigation to see if employees should be terminated for what’s seen on the undercover video.
Willardson is surprised by one of the scenes in the video. The investigator found decaying carcasses of hens in cages with live chickens, still producing eggs for human consumption. But, the Moark president provided this document from the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health. An inspection – while the undercover investigator was there – showed “excellent carcass disposal”.