After Pork Giant Was Exposed for Cruel Killings, the FBI Pursued Its Critics
The agency, seeking information on an animal rights group, attempted to recruit a former truck driver as an informant, the truck driver says.
Lee Fang, The Intercept
February 17 2021
Last June, Noel Williams, the chief operations officer of Iowa Select Farms, a powerful pork company and the largest in Iowa, pulled into the parking lot of an empty housing complex typically used for the firm’s immigrant workforce.
He was there to transport Lucas Walker, a former truck driver for Iowa Select, to a meeting with Nick Potratz, an FBI agent from the Des Moines office of the bureau. That’s according to Walker, who had recently tried to report Iowa Select, his former employer, for mistreating animals. After The Intercept published leaked video of pigs being killed off en masse, Walker came under scrutiny.
Now, the FBI had a favor to ask: Would Walker become an informant? More specifically, they wanted him to help in an effort to investigate and undermine an activist group that had become a thorn in Iowa Select’s side. They even asked if he’d be willing to sell drugs.
The saga that brought him into contact with the FBI began when the 26-year-old grew frustrated with his former employer, Iowa Select, which is headquartered in his hometown of Iowa Falls. Walker thought the company was blatantly disregarding state “double stocking” rules, which limit the size and number of pigs that are held in an intensive animal feeding facility, letting overweight pigs crowd into pens far too small to hold them.
He was tired of what he saw as frequent rule-breaking and disregard for the well-being of the tens of thousands of hogs raised by Iowa Select. The company, in his view, seemed hellbent on expansion and profits, leading to rampant overcrowding and water pollution. That rapid expansion led to the annual production of 1.5 billion pounds of pork a year, a global leader before the pandemic. The novel coronavirus, however, closed regional slaughterhouses, creating a glut of pigs.
He decided to speak out and called state regulators.
Walker doesn’t fit the profile of an animal rights activist...
... Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources, the local farm regulator, Walker felt, did not seem to care about his concerns over the phone or show any interest in enforcement on a company like Iowa Select...
... Walker, aware that he had few outlets for help, turned to the internet to research whistleblowing resources for factory farms. That’s how he found Direct Action Everywhere, the Berkeley, California-based group that has worked to expose the shocking treatment of animals in factory farms.
Soon after he came into contact with DxE, the novel coronavirus reached global pandemic status, shutting down slaughterhouses across the region. The glut of hogs, which suddenly became unprofitable, quickly ran up costs for the company. Iowa Select decided to mass slaughter thousands of pigs in a particularly brutal process...
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