For almost a year, Dee Spencer has stood outside of FPL Food LLC on New Savannah Road carrying signs supporting a movement that “bears witness” to farm animals before they are slaughtered, packaged and processed.
The international movement, known as the Save Movement, is comprised of groups who documents the transportation of pigs, cows, chickens and other farmed animals being sent to slaughter.
Spencer, an Augusta resident, was joined Tuesday at the intersection of Skyview Drive and New Savannah Road by several activists from North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida to support the cause and bring further awareness to the movement.
One by one the activists placed their signs alongside the road and walked up to the trailer of each truck, snapped a photo or two of the cows inside while telling them they were loved and offered them water.
The goal, according to Yvonne Newman who protested alongside her friend Bill Steinbuechler, is to make people think about the processing of farm animals, consider alternative diet options and to show the animals compassion.
“This love and compassion is the only compassion they will ever see in their life before death,” Newman said as a cattle truck pulled from the intersection onto New Savannah Road.
As the protesters approached cattle trucks at a stop sign on the intersecting roads they were often greeted with prolonged honks and a sudden wrench of the vehicle as drivers attempted to take the cows into the food processing plant.
Most of the drivers did not stop. Those who did gave the protesters a couple of minutes to take photos of the cattle, give them water and share words of comfort before they were driven away, said Spencer who founded the local chapter of the movement and became interested after participating at a similar protest in North Carolina last year.
The photos were then posted to Facebook and other social media platforms as a way for the group to document how the animals are treated before they die.
“We try to get as close as possible to them make eye-to-eye contact with them, and if their thirsty we’ll give them water before they go there,” Spencer said. “If we bear witness and show people what it is really like, we can help a lot of people make that connection of their food on the plate. That’s where it came from and we’re hoping that we can change that.”
Carla King and her sister Linda King Jackson traveled from North Carolina to participate in Tuesday’s protest. King, a participant of the movement in her hometown, said she did not mind driving five hours to support Spencer and her protest.
“We go to slaughterhouses in our county for pigs,” she said. “We decided actually last minute to come down and bear witness to the cows cause we’ve never done that and just to show Dee support because she came all the way to Clinton to support ours.”
FPL Food LLC released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying that the family-owned operation is committed to humane treatment of all cattle in their care and meets regulation for animal handling practices.
“From the producers we work with to our facility in Augusta, we are dedicated to providing the utmost care and treatment of livestock throughout the supply chain,” it states. “We assure animal welfare through standard operating procedures and compliance with USDA regulation. We also were the first beef processor in the U.S. to install third-party video monitoring to verify animal handling practices.”