The Ten Thousand Pig Farm (TTPF) in Jiangxi province, is an older pig raising operation. As its name suggests, it’s not small, but it’s also not an intensive, factory style facility. TTPF has been around for decades. In the past, dissidents were sometimes sent here to serve time, as in labor camp. Today, TTPF is a bit down on its heels. Its farmers worry they’ll end up in the dustbin of history. They, along with other small-scale pig farmers “Meat World: China” director Jian Yi interviewed, expressed a common fear’of elimination. Within a year, goes a rumor circulating in Jiangxi, China’s government plans to shut down smaller farms and support only larger, factory farms.
While filming at TPFF, the crew came across a group of pigs being loaded onto a truck for transport. “Very brutal” is how Jian Yi describes it. Some of the pigs stumbled over a gap between the ramp and truck bed, or their legs fell into the empty space. They were hit with sticks until they stood; several collapsed again when they got into the truck. Some of the pigs already loaded pressed their noses to the metal slats. Others lay down, half closing their eyes. One surprising fact about these pigs: they all had tails. In U.S. factory farms it’s standard practice to clip off piglets’ tails.
The loading process was something the crew had never seen before, and it disturbed them a good deal. Another unsettling scene the crew documented at TTFP was the injecting of pigs with medicines to prevent illness, another standard practice’and, as in the U.S., entirely legal in China. The government has, however, outlawed dosing of farm animals with hormones or other substances that make grow larger or influence the leanness of the meat.
What did the crew think about the pigs they’d encountered? I asked. How did they shoot those they could get near? Many close ups were filmed, Jian Yi confirmed. “They seem quite smart and friendly,” he added, noting he’d never been around pigs before. “They are practically licking our cameras…but they are also very timid.” Meanwhile, Jian Yi says, Pan, the cinematographer “has almost become a vegetarian as well.”
Coming next, the crew’s final stop: southern China’s Guangdong province. Often called the “world’s factory” Guangdong is not only a huge manufacturing hub, it’s also a center of large-scale pig production.