December 22, 2014

Ag Official Regrets Warning Turkey Farm

Last week, an official with the North Carolina Agriculture Department was accused of tipping off employees at the Butterball turkey plant that a raid was imminent.

In late December, authorities used a search warrant to inspect the facility in Hoke County, North Carolina. Butterball was accused of animal cruelty after an activist went undercover and took videos of workers stomping on turkeys and kicking them.

Dr. Sarah Jean Mason, who is the director of animal health at the Department, issued a notarized statement in which she said her actions have “reflected poorly” on the Agriculture Department. She stated that she wanted to end the abuse immediately and thought that the veterinarian working for Butterball, Dr. Eric Gonder, would quickly intervene.

The sheriff’s office searched the Butterball plant on December 28, 2011. The tip was discovered when a Butterball manager called the DA’s office to ask about the investigation before the raid took place. A criminal investigation and internal department review are now being conducted.

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