This interview on BBC Radio Sheffield begins with Rony Robinson’s visit to Moss Valley farm where he speaks to Farmer Steve Thomson about the pigs he uses for profit. As the children’s Old McDonald Had a Farm tune twinkles in the background, together they tour the sheds of mothers in farrowing crates and their babies, destined for slaughter. A series of myths are spouted in an effort to justify the unjust use of other sentient beings.
Only some of them have personalities, farmer Thomson informs us, as if evolution somehow scattered pig personalities like confetti, where it landed on a few. They all have a number though, he tells us, waving his hand as a crescendo of clattering and panic issues from the terrified pigs.
Pigs who lived and evolved on this earth for millions of years before humans appeared, are deemed to be poor mothers, at risk of lying on their babies in the cramped conditions of their confined shed where they are caged and unable to mother them. We hear the justification for why they stay indoors throughout their lives attributed to the mud outdoors which might “annihilate” their delicate feet a few months before their lives are annihilated in the slaughterhouse. Those same “delicate” feet will be cut off in the on-farm butchery and exported to China. The audience is informed that a mother pig wouldn’t want to go into the woods (of her natural habitat) and so she does what “comes naturally to her”: she lives in a cage on a standard pig farm where she is forcibly impregnated (“AI’d) by artificial insemination, and used as a breeding machine until she is killed at 3 or 4 years, about a third of her natural lifespan. Her children are more fortunate. At 22 weeks the last day of their lives will begin by entering the transport truck where, Farmer Thomson assures us, they are not intelligent enough to know what is happening.
Romy thought the pigs looked vulnerable. “I almost want to stroke [it] sic” he said. “I want to say “it will be all right.” “I think I want to sentimentally say “I love you because you are part of nature”. Farmer Thomson thinks he loves them too. He wouldn’t cuddle them though for fear that they’d take his arm off. Ironic really seeing as pigs rarely bite human arms but farmer Thomson butchers their limbs so that humans can bite chunks from their young bodies. When asked if he wakes up at night thinking about what he is doing to the pigs, farmer Thomson answered with the characteristic objectification that has enabled exploitation for thousands of years “that’s what they are there for”.
Asked about their experience at the slaughterhouse Farmer Thomson states that “They are put to sleep, the floor sinks away and they sink into CO2”. “A gas chamber?” interrupts Romy… “well…they just fall over and that’s it” farmer Thomsom tells the listeners…and himself.
Why would a farmer need to tell himself these lies if he wasn’t ashamed of his work?
Why would a radio producer ask “should I eat meat” if he didn’t know, as all of us know, at some deep and visceral level in our being, that it is wrong to take the life of another?
Romy interviewed Sandra Higgins, campaign Director of Go Vegan World and asked her for her views on animal use. Her interview begins at 36:54. You can listen to Sandra’s interview here.
Or to the full show including the visit to Moss Farm here.