September 2, 2008

Governor Culver should take cue from his Lt. Governor and visit Agriprocessors

In a stinging op-ed piece in the Des Moines Register (August 24, 2008), Governor Chet Culver of Iowa all but convicted Agriprocessors of some of the allegations of which it had been accused. The company responded by inviting the Governor to tour the plant and the community to see first-hand what this “jungle” that he and others characterized the plant as really looks like. The Governor’s office promptly turned down the invitation. Although the Governor invokes the name of his Lt. Governor Patty Judge as agreeing with his position, the Governor would do well to listen to Mrs. Page, who while being Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture in 2004, acted completely differently than the current Governor.

On December 12, 2004, Judge toured Agriprocessors to witness kosher slaughter first-hand. She was invited to tour the plant and view the kosher slaughter process following her statement a week earlier that she was upset by a video tape distributed by PETA. After touring the plant, Judge held a news conference and stated, "I have no problem with what I saw here today. The cattle I saw slaughtered were not abused nor were they thrashing about. I would call the process quick and humane." Judge, who was accompanied by State Senator Mark Zieman and Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, Chuck Gipp, added, "I have been around a lot of cattle operations, having run our own farm. I am no stranger to all aspects of the farm operation. I have also been on the kill floor of several slaughterhouses and I commend Agriprocessors on the cleanliness of the facility. As for the slaughter of chickens, what I saw here today was much more humane than the way my grandmother butchered chickens when I was a child."

In an editorial, the Des Moines Register urged the Governor to take Agriprocessors up on its invitation to visit the plant, but suggested that it be unannounced, perhaps to avoid the comments of some of the cynics after the visit of some 20 rabbis on July 31st that the plant was prepared like a camp on visiting day. If nothing else, the Governor owes it to the people of Postville who have suffered so much just to come by and offer some comfort. While there and at the plant, the Governor just might end up like his Lt. Governor did almost four years ago!