FARM protesters on Old Ocean City Road in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC)
SALISBURY, Md.- If you happened to be driving down Old Ocean City Road in Salisbury on Wednesday afternoon, you may have seen some demonstrators on the side of the road.
Drivers were distracted as they slowed down to watch the group Farm Animal Rights Movement, or FARM for short, standing across the street from Perdue Farms' headquarters.
The event is part of a coordinated, targeted series of demonstrations at slaughterhouses and other animal agriculture facilities around the world in observance of the 30th Annual World Day for Farmed Animals.
The group said that the poultry industry hides its standard practices which they said most people would find disturbing.
"I personally worked at slaughter houses, I have been a live hanger, I have seen countless chickens strung up and legs been broken," said Bryan Mollen, who is a coordinator with FARM.
"They cram animals into small windowless sheds with no moving space no breathing space," said Jen Riley who is the managing director of the organization. Riley went on to say, "The reality is that whenever you are taking an animal and commodifying him or her for their body to consume, you are not concerned about their welfare. So the bottom line is the money."
Activists said that their goal with these protests is to educate the public, mostly about why a meatless diet is better.
"A vegan diet is healthy for you, I would say you go vegan, it's better for the planet, it's better for the chickens obviously, it's better for yourself," said Mollen.
"More and more studies are coming out about how healthy and beneficial a plant-based diet is," Riley said. "There are plenty of forms of plant-based protein. It's just a matter of changing habits."
Bill Satterfield, who is the executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., said that the band of protestors have an agenda which is to eliminate consumer choice. Satterfield said that the chicken industry debunks their claims of farm animal mistreatment.
"We have an ethical obligation to treat them humanely to make sure they are cared for," Satterfield said. "They live in enclosed houses, they are protected from predators, from vermin. The National Chicken Council has a set of guidelines that a number of companies adhere to in all phases, from hatcheries to delivery of the chicks to raising the birds catching feeding and watering."
In response to the protests in Salisbury, Perdue issued this statement to WBOC:
"Farm Animal Rights Movement has a stated goal of ending the use of animals for food and actively promotes a vegan diet. While we obviously don't agree with them, we do respect their right to voice their opinions.
"We are proud of the way our chickens are raised and processed. Our customers and consumers trust that our poultry products come from animals that have been raised in a healthy environment, treated with respect and humanely processed. That's why our birds are raised cage-free in temperature-controlled housing with fresh air ventilation, protected from the elements, disease and predators. They have constant access to food and water and room to move about freely.
"In addition, we have a rigorous poultry welfare program and our flock advisors work directly with our poultry farm partners to ensure the safety, health and comfort of our poultry, and they are supported by a highly trained team including board-certified veterinarians specializing in poultry. Our auditing process assures that our poultry has a comfortable environment and that humane Best Practices govern the production, transport and processing of poultry."
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