Tammy Schrier, wife of Government Accountability Project (GAP) client and veteran USDA inspector Jim Schrier, has collected more than 150,000 petition signatures through a Change.org petition asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop retaliating against her husband.
Jim Schrier, a USDA meat inspector for 29 years, was recently stationed at a Tyson Foods slaughter facility in Iowa where he witnessed obvious humane handling violations involving market hogs. When he raised these concerns to his supervisor, the supervisor sent Jim to work at another facility 120 miles away.
GAP Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt commented:
GAP has worked with many meat industry whistleblowers like Jim who are brave enough to speak up when they see wrongdoing but face unlawful retaliation for doing so. It's easy to see why more than 150,000 people would want these truth-tellers on the front lines of our food supply to be rewarded rather than silenced.
Iowa has built a fortress around the unsavory truths that underlie Big Ag. What Jim Schrier witnessed calls into question the integrity of this industry. Tyson's treatment of these animals belies consumer expectations about humane handling and the safety of meat. Jim risked his career and family when he chose to speak out against the meat industry. Not only have Jim and fellow inspectors been discouraged from following the law and safeguarding against inhumane handling, but on top of this, the recent passage of Iowa's Ag Gag law actually makes it a crime to blow the whistle on farm animal abuse.
Tammy's petition urges the agency to bring Jim back to his original post near their home. Jim commented:
It means so much that my wife started this petition on my behalf. We are amazed at the responses we've received and appreciate all the people who have shown such support.
Tammy's campaign has gathered more than 150,000 signatures in less than a month, with more expected. Signers of the petition include other USDA inspectors who support Jim's claims and feared similar acts of retaliation by the agency.
At the Tyson plant, Jim witnessed that pigs being shackled for slaughter were kicking and thrashing violently. This is a direct and gross violation of the USDA's humane handling regulations that require pigs to be completely unconscious and unable to feel pain prior to shackling. He also witnessed that many pigs required stunning after being shackled, indicating that the animals had not been stunned properly beforehand.
Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.