Tell LAFC to Kick Farmer John out!

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Major League Soccer’s LAFC has announced a multi-year partnership with Farmer John, in a deal which makes the meat brand the team’s official packaged meat partner beginning with the 2020 season.

Please join Slaughter Free Los Angeles, Los Angeles Animal Save, and Animal Alliance Network in telling LAFC to choose compassion over violence. Farmer John kills upwards of 10,000 pigs per day when they are slaughtering at their facility in Vernon, CA. These pigs are babies around 4-6 months of age when slaughtered. During their time on the farm baby piglets have their teeth cut, their tails chopped off, and males have their testicles removed and this is all often done without painkillers. Pregnant and nursing pigs live in crates so small that they can’t turn around even to look at their piglets. They are innocent, smart, sentient beings who only greet humans with curiosity and affection. As soon as they grow large enough they are transported to Farmer John on trucks where they go days without food and water and some are badly injured during transport. They live their whole lives covered in their own feces and urine and are tightly packed together. These living conditions are a perfect breeding ground for diseases. In the time of this pandemic, we need to urge corporate companies to choose partnerships that will not cause harm to the public, the animals, and the environment. Farmer John is owned by Smithfield who is forcing workers in many states to work side by side even when many have tested positive for COVID-19. 

LAFC announced the partnership with Farmer John on Tuesday, April 28 but an article from the LA Times published on June 14 reveals that by the time the partnership was announced, Farmer John had already detected the outbreak and was working hard to conceal it from the employees, the press, and the public. The LA Times was able to confirm that Jose Guzman, who now uses an oxygen tank to help him breathe, tested positive for COVID-19 on April 16, almost two full weeks before the LAFC partnership was announced. While Farmer John was hiding crucial information and endangering the health and lives of its employees and the public, LAFC was quoted in a press release referring to the company as a “true community partner”.

By the time the LAist broke the story of the outbreak to the public on May 21, at least 153 employees of the Smithfield-owned plant and an unknown number of their families, friends, and neighbors had already tested positive for the virus. Today that number has reached to 269 employees which is 15 percent of their workforce. Employees of the plant were, and still are, afraid to be in the workplace for fear that they may contract the virus and take it home to their loved ones. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770, which represents 1,300 employees at the plant, recognized the threat to the employees and the community and on May 25, requested that the slaughterhouse and processing plants be shut down until a thorough investigation can take place, but Farmer John refused.

LAFC's mission statement says it aims “to empower youth and communities across Greater Los Angeles by providing access and opportunity to the world's game, teaching life skills, supporting public education, and promoting health and well-being.” If LAFC truly cares about the community's health and well-being it would not partner with a company that has put the lives of everyone in their community at risk. 

If the LAFC really wants to be "a force for good,” they would not be partnering with a company that produces Group 1 and Group 2 carcinogens (hotdogs, bacon, sausage, and other pork products, as per the World Health Organization). These foods contribute to the most common chronic diseases and early deaths in America. The LAFC Foundation cannot truthfully promote health to the children of our communities while having a partner like Farmer John.

The members of the LAFC team are primarily Latino or people of color. So are the workers inside Farmer John, and they don’t want to be there. They take jobs in these killing factories out of desperation to feed their families because they can't find other work. As can be seen in recent mainstream media, slaughterhouse workers endure numerous human rights violations including severe physical injuries and permanent psychological trauma. Farmer John is not a role model for our communities; it is a dark place that should be shut down for greater good. 

Please urge LAFC to reconsider their partnership with Farmer John and show how their organization is living up to their mission statement "promoting health and well-being" by choosing a plant-based meat supplier instead.