Police believe some video was not taken at farm, but still investigating


A local hog farm has not been cleared of an investigation requested by a national animal rights organization despite an agriculture publication’s report to the contrary, police said.

Farm World of Knightstown published an article Oct. 23 that East Fork Farms in Brownstown had been cleared of an investigation after police found video had not been filmed at the confined animal feeding operation.

Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, public information officer for the Indiana State Police Versailles Post, said the farm has not been cleared, but he did confirm investigators believe parts of the video were filmed elsewhere.

"We believe some but not all of the footage was captured at that facility," he said. "At this point, we’re still gathering more information from PETA and a longer version of the video and other documentation to look into the matter further. No one is cleared until it gets submitted to the prosecutor’s office and the prosecutor makes that determination."

Wheeles declined to say what parts of the video police believe were and were not filmed at the farm.

Police also are trying to determine who took the video and how they were able to get access to the facility. Investigators do have the raw footage, which is about two hours long, and continue to process it.

The edited version of the video was released Oct. 9 by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, aka PETA, after the organization said it received it from an anonymous source. The footage, which PETA said was filmed in early September, shows dead piglets, workers cutting off tails and throwing pigs to each other, overflowing waste systems, decomposing pigs and more.

Wheeles said Indiana State Police investigators went to the farm shortly after the video surfaced and did not find conditions consistent with what PETA’s video showed. A veterinarian who is familiar with CAFO operations was present during the visit and found that the building met industry standards, he said.

"We did not find the deplorable conditions that are depicted in the video, and we’ve since come to the conclusion that some of the video was not taken at the facility, while some was, and we’re still sorting through that," he said.

Wheeles said he did not want to infer that PETA is intentionally misleading the public because the video was received anonymously with the understanding it was taken at East Fork Farms.

Colin Henstock, assist manager of investigations for PETA, said the organization remains confident all of the footage was taken at the farm.

"To the best of our knowledge, this footage was captured at East Fork Farms," he said.

Henstock said "imagery" found in the video showed it was filmed at the facility. A photograph of a prescription bottle with the farm’s address and information was one of "several" identifying factors submitted to police, he said.

Henstock said the bottle was shown on a cart next to farrowing crates containing sows and piglets and was depicted in photographs and video.

It was sent with other information and was in the middle of a sequence of files that were consistent with the rest of the footage, he said.

"We do hope that the Indiana State Police will take action to stop their (pigs) suffering," he said.

Henstock said state law prohibits farms from causing severe pain to animals and requires owners to provide adequate care.

The article published by Farm World does not make investigators’ jobs more difficult, Wheeles said.

"It does make it more confusing," he said. "I never said anyone was cleared or that the investigation was over. … We have not gotten that far yet."

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