Saturday, August 21, 2010

Poisonous Food Comes From Poisonous Corporate Farms [Anthony McCarthy]

"How come Jack DeCoster keeps getting away with it," a relatively well informed person asked me this morning. DeCoster is infamous here in Maine and a number of other states in which he has various factory farm operations. He's been cited for horrible treatment of his employees- some of them young children, environmental violations and a host of other things* . If you want to risk being horrified, you might watch this short expose of some of the conditions in one of his operations. in Turner Maine.

New England Egg Farm Investigation

As to a possible answer to how he has gotten away with it for so long. Well, he's obviously quite wealthy and operating in a very laxly regulated area. You might expect that the federal, state and local governments would regulate the corporations producing food an enhanced level of scrutiny, but there isn't really any evidence that they do. You can see from the record in the links above, that he's managed to keep violating the law over and over again for decades.

Perhaps it could also have something to do with his "enforcer"Doucas Goranites, being Olympia Snowe's cousin. They were raised as siblings.

*In 1980, the DeCoster operation was charged with employing five 11-year-olds and a 9-year-old by the Labor department.

Prior to 1993: Even before he built his first large-scale Iowa pig farming operation, Austin J. "Jack" DeCoster had already drawn the serious attention of environmental and labor law enforcement authorities. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection had brought a 14-count action against him for activities that were polluting both air and water. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had investigated DeCoster in connection with farm workers' reports that they had been exposed to lethal asbestos in DeCoster chicken houses. There had also been a federal suit brought against DeCoster under the Migrant Agricultural Workers Protection Act, based on workers' reports of unfit housing, and of illegal threats and harassment ongoing at DeCoster plants.

Update: The violations associated with Jack DeCoster's operations being so numerous, it's hard to get them all into a blog post. Certainly not least of those is the citation of his Wright Co. operation, much in the news this week, in the sexual harassment, rape intimidation and retaliation against women employed there.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in August 2001 against DeCoster Farms and Iowa Ag-Construction Co., which recruits workers for several egg farms in northern Iowa.

The lawsuit claimed that the women, who worked as egg packers at four DeCoster farm sites, were raped by supervisors who threatened to have them fired or killed if they did not submit.

As you can read in one of the documents cited above and elsewhere, DeCoster eventually settled.