Not so long ago, the slaughter of a pig was a ritual. On the agreed day, the family and neighbors were received.
Early in the morning, the high-pitched shriek of the pig, like a ship's siren, indicated that a new cycle was beginning. For one or two more days, working collectively, all that animal that had been cared for for a year was prepared. It was his turn. He would feed the whole family for the next twelve months.
I am not a fan of car racing but I have informed myself. In 1950, when a car enteredboxes to change the wheels took 1 minute to complete the operation. The operators took the opportunity to clean the windshield, give the driver a drink and comment on how the race was going. Now, the same operation is not even two seconds long. There's not even time to exchange a glance.
The meat industry has become something similar, and especially the pig industry. A mad rush to produce the highest number of pigs per minute. Howferraris The most prolific sows are selected, achieving that in the last 30 years it has gone from sows with the capacity to give birth to 18 piglets per year, in two farrowings, to sows with a productivity of almost 30. To measure the efficiency of a farm, such as the classification of the fastest lap, the parameter ofnon-productive days per cycle,where the aim is to minimize the days when the sow is neither pregnant nor lactating. In economic terms, the days in which the females of a farm incur expenses without generating income. In the last 15 years, 2.72 days per year have been reduced, which is like reducing a second in the 100 meters.
But where this competition is most evident is in the bloodiest act of production: slaughter and dressing. If in the 90s the astronomical speed of slaughtering and butchering 6 pigs per minute had already been achieved, the new facilities with robotic machinery, working with several lines in the same facility, together with the demands that are imposed on the workers of This industrial chain allows speeds of 22 pigs per minute, 1 pig every 3 seconds.
The largest slaughterhouse in Europe
The next installation of these characteristics will be inaugurated in a few days in Binéfar (Huesca). As we can read on its website, https://www.literameat.eu/ is the largest slaughterhouse in Europe, prepared for the slaughter and processing of 32 thousand pigs a day, 1 pig every 3 seconds. His goal, he literally says, is "to kill 7 million heads [of pigs] per year."
Many voices have been raised against the project that has not been stopped. Although there are no unemployment problems in Binéfar and the La Litera region, the generation of 1,600 jobs has facilitated the approval of all administrations. Little seems to worry that the project is led by the Italian group Pini, with a very serious criminal record in similar slaughterhouse businesses in Italy, Poland and Hungary, where the complaints are uncountable. The newspaperPublic, In an exhaustive report, he has collected statements from his former workers. “Piero Pini himself, the president of the group, called us white slaves, he was right, we were slaves. There was no time to look back on the chain. The meat that came through the belt never stopped. When visitors came, they reduced the speed of the leash to two hundred pigs per hour, but under normal conditions, it went much faster ”. “Sometimes we work until one in the morning and we have to come back on Saturday at four in the morning. If you don't come they fire you, so you work intimidated by the permanent threats of losing your job ”. And everything indicates that, as happens in other state slaughterhouses, Pini and its Binéfar slaughterhouse, will maintain this type of slave regime from the skirmish of not directly employing its workers and doing so through the denounced "false cooperatives."
If the Administration has not been challenged by the type of job it is promoting, it will tickle the concerns from an environmental perspective that a slaughterhouse of these characteristics generates and even less will be influenced by the claims that come from animal groups.
In any case, I would like to add one more factor to take into account.
The pig bubble
Aragon produces a tenth of the entire swine industry in the State that in recent years has not stopped expanding, reaching a total turnover of 15,000 million euros in 2017. Spain is the third power in terms of world trade in pork products and the fourth in final production of tons of meat, only behind China, the US and Germany. In total, about 50 million pigs are slaughtered each year, producing about 4.25 million tons of meat, of which 55% are exported to the European Union, China and other Asian countries.
From this spring, Don Piero, in order for his income statement to be profitable, will want 7 million more pigs to be fattened in Spain, to be slaughtered in his slaughterhouse, to cut them up and in trays, fresh or frozen, to distribute them all over the world , especially in Asian markets. So, as the poet would say, "tell me in my soul" where will 7 million new pigs come from?
Of the day laborers, mostly migrants, working piecemeal in the multiplication of macro-farms of pigs that we are seeing that spread like a plague throughout the territory, with very little regulation and control, being responsible for the contamination of the land by slurry , of aquifers due to nitrates or the generation of resistance to antibiotics due to their abusive use in the fattening of this industrial livestock.
It is then not enough to raise our voice on the administrations, we must challenge ourselves as a society about the economic models that we are allowing. Personally, my opinion goes through looking backwards. Advance, once again protecting and valuing small-scale livestock, that of pigs fed with the remains of the farm or that of ruminants taking advantage of the mountain pastures. Small-scale farms that, in the last ten years, with the expansion of macro-farms, have closed at the rate of 4 per day.
By Gustavo Duch