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Farmer John meatpacking plant remains target for picketers


Animal-rights activists were expected on Wednesday to host another vigil for pigs outside the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, despite plans for the plant to close in early 2023.

The plant and its associated hog-production farm have been the target of weekly vigils organized by the Animal Alliance Network, protesting the treatment of baby pigs they say are raised in cramped conditions until they are loaded onto trucks bound for the slaughterhouse.

The planned demonstration would come just days after the plant’s Virginia-based owner announced the facility would close in early 2023, citing the rising costs of doing business in California. Parent company Smithfield Foods is also exploring “strategic options to exit its farms in Arizona and California.”

Company officials said they are providing “transition assistance” to employees at the plant, including “relocation options” to other Smithfield facilities and farms.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn has also pledged to assist workers who will be displaced after the plant closes. The Board of Supervisors approved a motion Tuesday aimed at ensuring workers are provided with placement and other assistance.

John Grant, president of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770, which represents union meat-packers at the plant, said he hopes another operator takes over the operation. A union spokeswoman told City News Service there are roughly 1,500 UFCW workers at the plant, with other workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the International Union of Operating Engineers.

The Animal Alliance Network has long criticized the Farmer John plant over its treatment of animals.

“They are packed into trucks with over a hundred of them piled together, often without room to move freely,” according to the organization’s website. “These pigs are usually raised in warehouses without windows and the first time they see the light is when they are loaded onto these trucks.”

In 2019, Farmer John chose not to renew its contract to supply Dodger Dogs to Dodger Stadium and grocery stores after more than 50 years.

It is unclear what will happen to the meat-packing facility at 3049 E. Vernon Ave., which has long been a popular destination for tourists and known for its whimsical artwork along the outside walls.