In response to a recent column by Gov. Pete Ricketts, “Value-added ag grows rural Nebraska,” corporate factory farming is consuming rural Nebraska with consequences.

Costco’s poultry operation in Fremont is not something to be so easily praised as beneficial because it is empowering corporate factory farming that is digesting rural family farms with lots of costs, to include major animal welfare concerns and suffering for billions of broiler chickens every year. This is not an example of Nebraska’s animal husbandry, nor should it ever be.

The Fremont poultry operation is similar to how big corporations, like McDonald’s, cruelly process broiler chickens in their supply chain. The chickens will arrive at the processing plant and first be hung upside down with their legs in metal shackles at a very fast pace with consequences of painful broken limbs and terrifying stress. They will be flapping their wings and moving around aggressively as a result, often causing further damage to their frail bodies.

They then will begin to be slaughtered in an electrical water bath system that is supposed to render them unconscious, but arguably may just paralyze them while they still feel pain. In 2016 half a million chickens died for reasons other than slaughter because sometimes the chickens are moving around so much they are able to dodge the electrical water bath system and sometimes even the cutting blades which means they die in the scalding tank.

This is why nonprofit organizations such as The Humane League and Compassion in World farming are right now going after McDonald’s to create a meaningful welfare policy for the boiler chickens in their supply chains.

In the broiler chicken industry animal suffering is a chronic issue, and it is essential that animal welfare be protected to ensure baseline levels of inputs that offer chickens the opportunity to experience “a life worth living.”

Robert Rieck, Lincoln

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