Wegmans Cruelty: An Unofficial Blog

This is an unofficial blog and informational archive related to the WEGMANSCRUELTY film and resulting campaign.

Please see that page for more information.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

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The Great Chicken debate: Is Wegmans running a gulag for chickens?

Written by Mac the Knife
Monday, 23 January 2006

This past fall, an animal rights group, Compassionate Consumers, based right here in Rochester, Wegmans home town, broke into the Wegmans egg farm in Wolcott, NY, took some supposedly incriminating videos, and set up a website Wegmans Cruelty, to tout the film.

The Knife was not very happy with the film trailer; it did show chickens in pretty small, crowded cages. It also showed some dead ones still in the cages - it was not pretty. I'll grant these twenty-somethings that made this film have at least an emotional club to swing.

However, there is nothing illegal about how Wegmans houses the some 700,000 chickens its keeps; NYS does regular inspections on the farm every 2 or 3 months. If these vegetarians feel that the housing these chickens have is inappropriate, then they would be better served trying to get the law changed, and affect not just the Wegmans operation, but all chicken farms state wide. This film was made by a criminal act, and that's bad for PR on their behalf.

It's also worthy to note that a farmer has little interest in his animals getting sick or dying, or having his operation fined or shut down by the state; it's in his interest to keep the animals in decent shape [note: Mac apparently doesn't know much about agriculture..]. Are the animals in cages that are cramped? Yes, I'd say so, but what should Wegmans do, erect mini-condos? Contract Laz-Boy to make recliners for these chickens? Free range chickens can encounter pecking by other chickens, and other problems.

The Knife feels that this group, while it means well, is acting more on emotions than information, even a bit of dishonesty. As of this writing, Wegmans Cruelty announces that the UFCW (United Food Commercial Workers Union) joined a demonstration in Princeton about the alledged cruelty. The Knife would like to point out that unions have been trying to get into Wegmans for years, unsucessfully, and this is just a stab in the dark to try to do damage to Wegmans. Why can't unions get into Wegmans and unionize the employees? Because the union can't offer anything more than Wegmans already gives it's employees; in fact, all the union would do is take money out of the employee's pockets, in the form of "dues" or extortion, as The Knife calls it. It would also do damage the business itself in terms of damaging strikes because of "unfair" work conditions. The Knife is no friend to unions, having been burned himself.

All in all, The Knife believes that Wegmans came out on top of this flop. They even started offering "free range" eggs in some stores to give that option to those that would choose to support that kind of chicken farming. Unlike the vegetarian do-gooders, who would like to see us all pay higher prices for eggs without a choice, Wegmans took the situation and gave us a choice. Not surprising!

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And in the "forum," the "Great Chicken Debate": Are the chickens at Wegmans Egg Farm being mistreated, or is this a smear campaign?

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