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There may be more to pork Pres. elect Ronald William Prestage than meets the sty

Though he tried to enter U.S. Capitol with a gun, Prestage (center) once presented President Bush with Katie, the first pardoned female turkey.
Though he tried to enter U.S. Capitol with a gun, Prestage (center) once presented President Bush with Katie, the first pardoned female turkey.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

When Ronald William Prestage, 59, was arrested last week for trying to take an unlicensed gun into the U. S. Capitol, many wondered what the frequent lobbyist was thinking. According to the New York Daily News, Prestage did nothing suspicious to bring attention to himself, but the 9-mm. Ruger handgun was found during a routine search. Prestage was arrested and taken into custody by the U. S. Capitol police.

Well reports and sources that have surfaced afresh after Prestage’s arrest indicate that his bag might not be the only thing that bears looking into. Prestage is the president of Prestage Farms of South Carolina, LLC (PFSC), which provides turkey to the Louis Rich brand of Kraft Foods. The parent company, Prestage Farms (PF) lists on its website that their mission is to “produce top quality pork and turkey at a competitive cost”.

On the company website it says, “Prestage Farms has a proud legacy of producing pork and turkey in a responsible, ethical, and humane manner. We are committed to meeting the animal welfare standards we have set for ourselves as well as the standards of our customers and communities. Our employees and grower families care for our animals on a daily basis which includes providing well maintained housing, adequate food and water, precise ventilation and temperature control, along with humane handling and transportation”.

However, it appears that this arrest was not the first time Prestage has been called to give an account for questionable behavior. PF has previously been accused of poor animal treatment like this story that was reported by Reuters. The story described all types of horrors practiced by PF, such as “piglets with splayed legs duct-taped backed [sic] to their bodies.” PF denied any allegations of animal cruelty at their meat plants at the time.

According to Matthew Prescott, Food Policy Director for the Humane Society of the U.S., "Ron Prestage and his Pork Council are no friend to animals--they advocate locking pigs in tiny cages so small they can't even turn around, a practice that's been decried by veterinarians, food companies and animal protection organizations worldwide.” Prescott added, “We don't know what Prestage was planning to do once inside the Capitol, but thankfully the Capitol Police apprehended him before anything happened.”

Prestage is also the President elect of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). When asked about these animal cruelty allegations and Prestage’s arrest, Dave Warner, NPPC Director of Communications responded, “NPPC has no comment on this.” A telephone operator at PF said Friday that Mr. Prestage was not in, and that she had no comment in response to Prescott’s statements about PF animal cruelty.

When asked whether or not Mr. Prestage was still in custody, the PF operator again replied, “No comment” and said that she’d been instructed to refer all calls to their North Carolina office and hit 1 for public relations. There was no response to a voicemail left for the PF public relations department.

According to The State newspaper, “Prestage told the U.S. Capitol Police officers at the scene he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in South Carolina, according to court documents, but he doesn’t have a permit to carry in the District of Columbia.” Prestage’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 13.

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