A new billboard with the message “Meat Kills, Go Vegan” will appear on Highway 17 in Wright County. The roadside message, which also lists health risks correlated with meat consumption, comes from an animal rights organization that aims to prevent the construction of a pork processing plant.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, wants to stop Prestage Farms from constructing a proposed plant, which the company says will create 900 fulltime jobs. The meat processor is considering Wright County, after a failed attempt to build a facility in Mason City.
PETA says the roadside message will hopefully encourage people in Wright County to consider the quality of life that Prestage Farms pigs endure.
"They’re denied everything that is natural and important to them, like breathing fresh air, and being with their families, and laying in the sun. They have amputations like their tails being clipped, or their teeth being clipped without anesthesia. Male pigs are castrated without painkillers of any kind," says PETA Investigations Editor Nadia Taha. "It’s in the hands of Wright County residents to speak up and prevent this kind of enormous suffering."
Though pork plays a prominent role in Iowa's economy and culinary culture, Taha says the billboard may inspire people to consider a vegan diet.
"In the south, tobacco growing was a huge part of the economy. We no longer hold that up as something that is morally OK to do, to spread disease to other communities," she says.
In an emailed state, Prestage Farms spokeswoman Summer Lanier says, "We've been good neighbors for the 12 years that we've been in Iowa and follow all standards for pig care as outlined by the industry's Pork Quality Assurance program. We are not surprised that PETA -- an extremist group with a vegan, anti-agriculture agenda that is out of step with the values of mainstream Iowans -- is running a billboard against the proposed plant."