On this everyone can agree: The semi-truck crash that killed several pigs east of Great Bend last week was an unfortunate incident. But, how folks are responding to it vary.
To recognize the pigs that died when the truck carrying them overturned, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to place a billboard in the area that proclaims, “I’m ME, Not MEAT. See the Individual. Go Vegan,” said Washington, D.C.-based PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman.
However, “It is a nice opportunity for us to tell our story,” said Art Sauder, a Great Bend pork producer and chairman of the Kansas Pork Association board. “In rural Kansas, we understand agriculture and are dedicated to doing things well.”
At the center of this is the crash last Wednesday when the Barton County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a rollover crash at the junction of U.S. 56 and K-156, approximately three miles east of Great Bend. Deputies arrived to find a 2008 Kenworth truck tractor and livestock trailer that had overturned while the driver was attempting to make a turn. The semitrailer was loaded with approximately 155 head of swine.
“Nearly a dozen pigs experienced a terrifying death on the highway, and those who survived were rounded up and presumably taken to slaughter,” Reiman said. “PETA’s ad encourages anyone disturbed by the thought of animals suffering on the side of the road or facing the slaughterhouse knife to go vegan.”
But, “this is taking things to the extreme,” Sauder said. “We are committed to providing the best in safety and health for the animals.”
We are in an era when more people are asking about farming and are more concerned with animal welfare, he said. “We welcome questions.”
In today’s meat industry, livestock is treated inhumanly, said PETA’s Amber Canavan, a senior campainger living in Oregon, adding they are forced to live and die in cruel conditions. “Every person who goes vegan saves the lives of nearly 200 animals every year.”
They are “intelligent, sensitive individuals that feel pain,” Canavan said. Although in the heart of farm county, she said people “waking up” to vegan options, from consumers to farmers.
Again, Sauder said this is an extreme reaction. “Unfortunately, we don’t attract a lot of attention when things go well.”
In 2018, there were more than 90 accidents in the U.S. involving trucks used to transport pigs, chickens, turkeys and cows. In 2019, PETA has noted 95 accidents involving vehicles carrying animals used for food.
Using this data, Canavan said PETA places signs at such sites. Most recently, billboards have been erected in Missouri and Ohio.
As for the Barton County sign, “we are still reviewing our options,” Canavan said.