The Pig Business Series

The Pig Business series of films investigate the rise of factory pig farming. This farming system threatens human health through dangerous overuse of antibiotics, wrecks rural economies and communities, pollutes the environment and abuses animals. The resulting profits line the pockets of just a handful of massive corporations and their powerful lobbyists, putting local farmers out of business.

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Country-specific versions of Pig Business

Since the making of Pig Business, Farms Not Factories has been asked by local campaigners to shed light on factory farming cases in other countries around the world. So far, new films have been produced in Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Germany, Hungary, Romania and USA. These country-specific versions of Pig Business include new footage and focus on specific stories and case studies from the country, or countries involved.

Pig Business in Chile

Pig Business in Chile is the latest film in the Pig Business series. This film tells the story of the residents of Freirina, Chile, who fought the corporate giant AGROSUPER and succeeded in shutting down the largest factory pig farm in the world.

Pig Business in Chile is also available to watch in Latin-American Spanish here »

PIG BUSINESS IN CHILE - THE STORY


Tracy Worcester, founder of Farms Not Factories and producer of the film Pig Business which exposes the dangers of intensive pig farming, has just returned (December 2012) from filming in Chile. Her visit coincided with the brutal suppression of a local protest against a mega factory farm owned by giant Chilean food conglomerate Agrosuper. On her return to the UK, it was reported that Agrosuper had announced it was going to permanently close the facility.

Agrosuper

Agrosuper is the largest pork producer in Chile and controls 68% of the country’s pork production. Agrosuper also exports over 20,000 tonnes of meat each year, primarily to Japan, South Korea, the European Union and Mexico. The company has a long history of conflicts including fines, anti-union actions and collusion in order to raise prices. Environmental legislation experts agree that the law has continuously been tailor-made to suit these large corporations over smaller traditional methods of animal rearing. Agrosuper receives millions in subsidies from the government through carbon emissions trading every year. For a factory pig farm complex such as that at Freirina, they would receive around $12 million US dollars per year through government subsidies.

agrosuper pig farm

Freirina

1000km north of Santiago, Freirina is one of the last green frontiers of Chile, before the terrain turns completely into desert. Sadly, the people here have suffered great environmental problems due to massive industrial investment in the region. This includes Barrick Gold in the mountains, a huge power plant and iron industry on the coast (watch this 3min video highlighting the problems). Freirina is right in the middle of all this. The whole valley survives thanks to the Huasco river, which gets increasingly polluted and less affluent every day. Agrosuper is accused of using wells (which they have built without permits), and taking water from underground water reserves. which they deny.

freirina

Freirina pig factory

In May 2012 local residents complained about the smell that was emanating from the pig effluent within the factory pig farms. Riots broke out and access roads were blocked. Agrosuper workers abandoned the plant on safety grounds, which left 500,000 pigs unattended within the plant.

Chilean Health Minister, Jamie Manalich said, ‘[The pigs] have stopped receiving food, there is no sanitation, their waste is not being disposed of and we understand there is high mortality among the animals, particularly the young piglets…the waste overflow could contaminate area drinking water and could be a grave danger for the population’ .

Chilean authorities declared a state of emergency, stepping in to help Agrosuper control the situation. According to the BBC, the company was burying the corpses of the dead pigs in specially prepared pits and the site was being disinfected. Agrosuper was given six months to evacuate all the pigs, but demonstrators said it still had 270,000 animals in the plant in the beginning of November.

Freirina map

Farms Not Factories’ Director, Tracy Worcester, Hails Closure of Chilean Pig Factory

Faced with nationwide disgust at the violence against the residents, and a statement by the Chilean Ministry of the Environment that Agrosuper would have to comply with environmental regulations, the company announced on December 10th that it had decided to ‘indefinitely close the agro-industrial complex’ and said it regretted recent events.

Tracy believes it’s not only a local success, but “also a victory in the global war against this flawed factory pig farming system.

“When investors see that communities have the power to close such a huge factory, they might think twice about expanding or building new pig factories.”

Last May the Chilean government ordered the factory to close after campaigners blockaded the site. However six months later it announced that after all the huge complex could stay open.

Freirina blockade

So in November, Farms Not Factories went to film the Freirina community’s renewed struggle against the largest pig factory farm in South America.

On 25th November, the date by which the Minister of Health had said all the pigs must leave the factory farm, it still housed 210,000 pigs. In protest hundreds of local residents dressed in mourning staged a funeral to mark the death of their valley.

A coffin followed by a candlelit procession was carried to the main square and set on fire. At midnight the main road was temporarily blocked by burning tyres and the night sky glowed red from a fire started in a eucalyptus plantation.

Then in the early morning of 6th December demonstrators set up blockades to prevent the Agrosuper feed lorries and workers reaching the complex. The government’s special forces, already waiting on Agrosuper’s property, attacked with military vehicles equipped with high volume tear-gas canons.

Freirina

Before dawn, Yahir Rojas, a schoolteacher and one of the spokespersons for the community movement was illegally abducted and beaten unconscious by Agrosuper guards. He was transferred to intensive care and is thankfully recovering but this highlights the brutality of a company that resorts to violence against its opponents.

Triumph for an organised community

No doubt worried by the bad publicity attracted by this violence, Agrosuper is promising to close the plant, giving the reason of ‘being unable to fulfill environmental considerations’. Cesar Orellana, the newly elected Mayor of Freirina, said ‘This is a triumph for an organised community’.

Freirina rally

Toxic stench engulfs the valley

With only a fraction of the proposed 2.5 million pigs in the sheds in the desert above Freirina, this industrial pig rearing complex has already depleted the local water supply, and the inhabitants suffer illnesses caused by the toxic stench from biodegrading pig faeces that engulfs their picturesque valley.

The cost of intensive pig rearing is also paid by the animals. When visiting another of Agrosuper’s massive factory farm complexes in San Pedro, south of Santiago, I climbed over a barbed wire fence to film rows and rows of pregnant pigs, trapped in steel cages, too narrow for them to turn around for their entire four month pregnancy.

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