Northern Circuit District Attorney Parks White severely criticized the Humane Society of the United States for its recent covert investigation of a chicken farm in Madison County that led to the owner losing his contract with a major chicken producer.
White sent by email a letter on June 30 to the organization’s national headquarters in Washington D.C. after he viewed a video that was secretly made at Plainview Farm in Hull. The owner had a contract to raise chickens for Pilgrim’s Pride, which has terminated the grower’s contract as the result of company officials viewing the video.
“We do not appreciate the moral busybodies of the Humane Society taking advantage of a lifelong farmer, whose small business may forever be ruined by the actions of your videographer. If you choose to conduct another such expose, it is my sincere wish that you do it somewhere else,” wrote White, who pointed out that Georgia has been the nation’s leader in broiler production for 25 consecutive years.
The video was secretly made in June at Plainview Farm, showing the owner using a metal pole to kill two chickens that were culled from the flock. The video was sent to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office along with a complaint that the farmer possibly had violated a cruelty to animals code of law.
Sheriff Michael Moore sent the video and information to White’s office and to the State Department of Agriculture, neither which felt a law had been broken.
As a result of the district attorney reviewing the case, White said his office is investigating to determine if the videographer used a false name to gain employment from farm owner George Smith and if so, the man may have violated the felony offense of aggravated identity fraud.
State law also prohibits eavesdropping and surveillance in a private place out of public view, according to White, who said he is additionally reviewing a law that makes it a felony to use a device to record another person in a private place without that person’s consent. And White also said he was examining a law regarding the theft of trade secrets to see if the videographer violated that section of law.
Moore said last week that deputies are trying to positively identify the man who made the video.
Pilgrim’s Pride released a statement that the actions portrayed in the video were in conflict with animal-welfare training it provides to farm owners, who sign a contract pledging to treat livestock according to its standards.
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