Direct Action Everywhere conducts investigation of Tyson ‘factory farm’

photo of two chickens in the grass eating
Zoe Rosenberg/Courtesy
Activists from animal rights activist organization Direction Action Everywhere have investigated multiple meat providers with connections to campus, including Tyson Foods. While conducting its investigation, the organization took two chickens from one of Tyson's farms.

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Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, began a thorough investigation of all of the suppliers Cal Dining funds after witnessing alleged animal cruelty at Seaboard Foods last year.

Zoe Rosenberg, the project’s lead investigator and organizer and leader of DxE’s social media team, started the investigation of UC Berkeley’s supply chain after being accepted to campus during the pandemic.

“We found evidence of horrible animal cruelty, piglets screaming for their lives,” Rosenberg said. “It was the worst farm I had ever seen.”

After discovering the animal cruelty and environmental pollution at companies connected to campus, Rosenberg and other DxE members eventually found that campus was buying from Seaboard Foods.

DxE released its findings in a YouTube video at the beginning of fall 2020 and continued by protesting the dining hall system through its members chaining themselves to Sather Gate, only unchaining themselves after campus agreed to drop Seaboard Foods. At a later date, campus also agreed to drop Diestel Turkey, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff.

DxE asked campus why they allegedly were not being transparent about their suppliers for Cal Dining after campus agreed to meet with them once they dropped Seaboard Foods, Rosenberg said. 

Campus administrators and DxE came to an agreement in which the organization would receive a full list of its Cal Dining suppliers, and DxE would be able to investigate them, according to Rosenberg. In exchange, they would give campus an opportunity to drop any suppliers if necessary prior to releasing information to the public.

“Certainly UC Berkeley supports the humane treatment of animals which are raised for food,” said Chancellor Carol Christ in the meeting with DxE members during spring 2021.

On the list of Cal Dining suppliers, Rosenberg noticed Tyson and Hormel, which are some of the largest meat producers globally.

When DxE brought this up, campus allegedly refused to drop these suppliers, leading to a demonstration at the Crossroads dining hall in spring 2021. Once Christ agreed to speak with DxE, Rosenberg added, they unchained themselves.

“They defended their use of Tyson Foods and Hormel,” Rosenberg alleged. “Christopher Henning bragged that he had been working with Tyson for years. When I called Tyson a factory farm he said we must have different definitions. He said Tyson does not use factory farms but uses small family farms.”

Over the summer, Rosenberg went across the country and investigated a Tyson-owned facility. According to Rosenberg, there were dead birds littered throughout the barns, all surrounded by flies.

Rosenberg alleged that there were large amounts of feces scattered on the floor suggesting that the barns had not been cleaned for some time, along with chickens with mobility issues because they had so much weight on their chests.

According to DxE organizer Cassie King, Rosenberg and her team maneuvered around the intense security at the facility and entered as guards patrolling the property at night.

While campus representatives have yet to make any public statements regarding the Tyson investigation, King said the activists hope that campus will meet with students to discuss this in the near future.

DxE plans to hold another demonstration Aug. 25 at 7:30 a.m., in which it will gather in Sather Plaza.

“We’ll be using fake blood to represent the violence that Cal Dining is funding and supporting to humans, animals and the environment,” Rosenberg said.

Contact Nida Yar-Khan at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @nidayarkhann.