A video released by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group, is the latest shot fired in the battle over what's acceptable in pig farming.
The video could be worth millions of dollars. Mercy for Animals is using the video to pressure Arkansas based Walmart to stop buying pigs raised by Christenson Farms in Minnesota.
"Christenson farms has admitted that they cram animals in cages so small they can't turn around, that they smash piglets, head first into the ground and that they mutilate animals without painkillers--they say it's acceptable within the industry," said Becca Frye with Mercy for Animals.
Christensen's practices are not illegal and the company's CEO said in a statement: "We have reviewed the video and have noted no exceptions to our company procedures or industry."
Gestation crates are controversial; the stalls used are so small that adult pigs aren't able to turn around. They've been outlawed by nine states and many major pork sellers have stopped buying pigs from farms that use the stalls -- but not Walmart.
Mercy for Animals claims Walmart has viewed the video but not indicated they will make any changes, but the group claims recent decisions by Costco and K-Mart to stop buying gestation crate pork within 10 years came after watching this video.
A Walmart spokesperson says they are looking into the issue but that right now they prefer to give their customers the option of whether or not to buy gestation crate pork. In a written statement, she said:"We will not tolerate animal mistreatmentby our suppliers. As soon as we were made aware of the video, we immediatelyreached out to our suppliers who source from this farm. If we determine thatthere was mistreatment, we will take action.
"We currently offer gestationcrate-free pork products in a number of stores across the U.S.
"We have been having and willcontinue on-going discussions with our suppliers, NGOs and food safety expertsto find ways to increase that number.
"We believe in offering ourcustomers a choice."
The video released by Mercy for Animals is extremely graphic, and may be disturbing to watch. If you would like to view the video, click here.