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factory farming undercover investigatorfactory farming undercover investigator

Factory Farm Undercover Investigator Shares his Experiences

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The current article you are reading does not reflect the views of the current editors and contributors of the new Ecorazzi

Ever wondered what the life of an undercover investigator for factory farms is like?

T.J. Tumasse, who did 15 undercover investigations from 2007 to 2013, decided to tell all about it to not only activists who know him and his work but to a greater crowd. Tumasse started an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on Reddit allowing questions about his work to pour in and honest answers to flow back in return.

Not surprisingly, the conclusion is that his job is not easy.

Tumasse, whose work was mostly done for the non-profit animal rights organization Mercy for Animals, was never found out for the six years he worked undercover. He admitted he was afraid however, and had he been uncovered, believes the punishment could have been “anything from being buried out back to thrown in jail for a false crime.”

While working at egg farms in Iowa and Minnesota and a turkey farm in North Carolina among many other missions, Tumasse saw few women workers, some workers who opposed the cruel treatment of animals, and still others who took pleasure in their torture. Working undercover made him walk a difficult line.

“When we work undercover we have to do the job at the facility to the best of our ability while maintaining a cruelty free working ethic with the animals as much as possible,” he explained when asked if he ever had to torture an animal to blend in. “The problem is that cruelty is often inherent in standard practice in animal agriculture. It makes the investigators job extremely difficult.”

It is that culture of cruelty that Tumasse exposed that he claims Ag-Gag laws are trying to protect.

“I worked in states that now have ag-gag laws like Iowa before the laws were passed,” he said about the laws that make undercover filming of agricultural production facilities illegal. “This is a blatant attempt to silence out right to free speech. These factory farms have everything to hide because people would not support them by buying their products if they knew what was happening. The fact that they will go to these lengths to try to keep their actions hidden shows the cruelty of what they do is something to be ashamed of.”

Tumasse has followed a “compassionate plant based diet” for 10 years and encouraged current meat eaters to do the same. Even small family farms don’t cut it according to him.

“The term ethically raised meat is, in my opinion, a contradiction. There is no way to kindly exploit and kill someone, no matter if they are human or another species,” he said. “I have seen every kind of animals agriculture and if animals are being raised, used, and killed for our own means then we are exploiting them and there is no way to morally exploit another sentient being.”

The years of undercover work have had permanent effects on Tumasse who said he still has nightmares and suffers from PTSD over the images he’s seen.

“Every time I saw torture it broke my heart. I hated having to see all the things I saw,” he admitted. “I have become very sensitive to violence. I can’t watch violent movies anymore, I don’t like to see it. I embrace Ghandi and Dr. MLK. I believe in non-violent revolution and peace. I also deal with PTSD and some painful physical problems. As long as animals suffer for human whims I will suffer with them. Animal exploitation is horrible. I will be affected by what I saw for the rest of my life.”

It’s a very tough job, but someone’s got to do it – and to anyone who ever wants to follow his footsteps, he advised to just contact any animal rights organization because “investigators come in all shapes and sizes.”

As for those who want to help but can’t stomach the undercover mission, he said there are still ways to make a difference.

“The best ways for people to be involved are volunteering locally, sharing social media and, supporting organizations like Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing, and others who do undercover work,” he said also adding that “the greatest thing any individual can do is embrace a plant based compassionate diet.”

You can check out Tumasse’s Reddit AMA to see all of the questions he answered.

Photo Credit: Reddit


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  • Siraganda

    Tumasse is a true hero in every way – this kind of undercover work demands a lot of physical, mental and spiritual strength – and during the most hideous moments he is all alone! This person earns the topmost respect! Thank you T. J. Tumasse – for your precious and very important work! You are my hero!

  • fearnot

    LOL really he sounds so “tortured” lying to get a job , taking part in what he sees as torture is not compassion compassion is taking that information directly to the media as soon as you see it.. not weeks later.. not months later and carteianlyanly not getting PAID to do it, he feared being thrown in jail .. well when you commit a crime that is exactly where you should be

    • ale

      In order for change to occur, systemic abuse has to be documented. Reporting once isn’t enough to change policy/procedures, nor is it enough to change the public perception of an industry. A company can claim it’s a one time issue and not have to do anything, and consumers will think it doesn’t apply to what they purchase with a moral blind spot. He and every person who goes undercover is a brave soul seeking to change the world.

      • fearnot

        uh huh so if a child is abused we shroud just wait for change to occur.. he is not a “brave soul”
        he a vegan liar who is willing ( if he is to be believed) to see other animals tortured so he can “save some’ and “make changes’ and even participate in the abuse .. sick puppy that he is

        • Nicole Jaja

          child abuse is widely accepted atrocity.
          sadly, abuse on farmed animals is not. sadly, we need evidences to convince people, and the more the better because than they can´t say “oh but i bet it´s only isolated case so no biggie”.

          • fearnot

            yes so let’s just keep on abusing them to prove a point is that what you are saying.. bad idea..

          • Nicole Jaja

            huh? usually undercover investigators do not abuse animals. they DO have to film it to make a point. as like i said, we need to convince people that this is what´s going on, this is what they indirectly participate in, and that it is not just isolate chase. we need as many evidences as possible so we could stop this. it´s a sad truth, but that´s how it is.

          • fearnot

            do you know what the word accessory means? a sad truth? that these undercover radicals need to be accessories to what they consider abuse every day?? seems criminal to me

          • Nicole Jaja

            stop trolling here. if you do not yourself rescue every farmed animal you can, and teach people how animals are treated in factory farms, you have no right to judge people who DO something. whether you disagree with their tactic is just your own personal opinion. so again, stop typing and go to the real world rescuing animals.

          • fearnot

            nope I eat meat .. and poultry so do my dogs.. what do your dogs eat?/ how about your cats? If animal agriculture is stopped we will have no more pet cats.. cats must have meat to live.. so are you advocating no more pets?

          • Nicole Jaja

            you must be bored out of your mind you have nothing better to do than to troll animal rights websites.
            get a life.

  • laurelladesborough

    While I totally hate animal abuse in any form, I cannot agree that raising farm animals for human food is abuse if the process of sacrificing them is done to create less pain. As for the idea that we should not eat meat, that flies in the face of the reality that we are primates living on a planet where we have evolved to consume meat as a part of our diet. Note that many primates eat meat!! Sometimes chimps kill and eat their chimps from neighboring tribes! At least with humans we can make every effort to be kind to our animals during their days on our farms. Yes. Some farm workers will be cruel, just as some parents will be cruel. But that is not the majority. Yes. The design of a farm facility can be so poor that the animals suffer. That is a good reason to make sure that facilities meet standards. However, undercover videographers is not a matter of free speech…and here is one reason why. Undercover types who work at farms or visit farms under false pretenses may also be harboring diseases that can be transmitted to poultry, pigs or cattle…on their shoes or clothes…as they go from one facility to another. Then there are the fake abuse videos….like the set-up of the Ohio Dairy farm video where a videographer took a series of photos of a mentally challenged farm worker pretending to stab cows with pitch forks…and the cows made no moves to indicate they were struck. The same worker beat some calves…and then turned to the camera with a statement that “I did that good.” No one seems to wonder how did a videographer find X farm, and X barn and X worker at the exact time the worker was taking time from his chores to spend quite awhile abusing cows and calves? When you do some critical thinking, you do see that it had to be a planned event…time, place, and person…had to be planned or there would have been no video. That is why there are ag-gag laws…when workers are PAID to be abusive, then where is the real abuse? This has even occurred in Australia where activists stated that cattle sold to Indonesian slaughterhouses were abused. They had videos to prove it. When the authorities made a trip to the slaughterhouses and investigated…they found the workers had been PAID to stage abusive behavior which they normally did not do. Same has happened with other species. One case was with river dolphins in Brazil where radical animal rights individuals paid fishermen to kill dolphins for the camera…so fundraising could be done to “save the river dolphins.” So when these kinds of events are staged, that does leave the public wondering WHICH video is real and which is a FAKE.

    • Siraganda

      The human being is not a chimp! Ecologists, adopting the unproven darwinistic evolution theory are not at all helping the animal rights cause as they think, but are rather catapulting the human species into an irresponsible position, where it considers itselve as ‘Evolved great apes’; where it can do whatever it likes – even the most horrendous crimes! Nevertheless the micro evolution is proven, that for example a certain species is developing during hundreds or thousands of years some changements or adaptations to their environment, it remains scientifically unproven, that one species has developed from another one. If we were descendants from great apes, there would not be great apes anymore, but rather their descendance! Hence the human being is not an ape and all signs are focusing on the clear fact that we were not meat eaters in the past and that there were, together with stone age people, great civilisations, which were by far higher developed than nowadays! Today the world is in a continuous decay – it is not evolving, it is devolving! Ancient India has a millions of years history and ancient Egypt also, but the modern so-called science is not willing to admit this, because they still are promoting the western supremacy!

      • laurelladesborough

        Siraganda, Please read my response to Tracey above. Then know that I did not say we evolved from chimps. I said we are primates LIKE chimps. We are “cousins” of chimps, sharing at least 98 percent of the same DNA. Responsible ethical humans do not consider they can do whatever they like. They make choices based on what produces the most gain with the least suffering. NO WHERE in this world does any sign indicate that early humans were not meat eaters! Early humans used stone knives and bows and arrows to bring down other animals. Early humans wiped out the woolly mammoths and other animals, killing them for food! Yes. Early humans ate tubers, plants and grubs, but they also ate meat. Now, when humans who are pregnant do not consume meat, they run the risk of having a seriously impaired baby due to the lack of vitamin B12. Studies on vegan mothers giving birth to imperfect babies in the EU have proven that without sufficient nutrients, babies suffer even during their fetal stage. Then we have stupid vegan mothers here in the US, six different ones, who starved their babies by feeding them coconut milk, ground straw and other concoctions that were causing starvation!!! The world is not in decay. It is the lack of serious education and respect for scientific fact that causes problems for society. As long as individuals are going to follow some cult beliefs instead of actually studying facts, then those individuals are going to have serious health and other problems.

        • just thinkin

          Darwin really made people think they were kin to “monkeys” but really It is not so much the number of genes are close but how they fit together….so not as close as one may think and that distance in how they fit together. Genetics was not known about. What Darwin did do is made people feel they had no more use for religion as based on the Bible. His first cousin Galton was the man who thought up eugenics. Hitler was very interested. Erasmus Dalton was the first to say that humans came from the sea..which he wrote about in book form…..and Charles Darwin spent a lot of time with his grandfather.

        • Siraganda

          Yeah – but these 2 % are a very big difference and as the world shows us today, a great part of humans are not very responsible! But anyhow, there are also others, I hope so! Concerning the meat eating of the human species: plant eaters and humans differ much from meat eaters:
          meat eaters got fangs and claws – both others not
          meat eaters sweat by the tongue and not the body – both others not
          meat eaters guts are more short – both others not
          meat eaters saliva is different from the two others
          meat eaters digestive liquids are different from the two other groups etc.
          But anyhow, everyone who insists in meat eating shall also find a reason to do so!
          I never ate animal products during my pregnancy and my son has become a real giant! The babies you are talking about are from vegan mothers who didn’t eat the right vegan thing – it’s as simple as that!
          If you think that the world is not in decay, better for you!
          Peace and greetings, Siraganda

        • Alex

          LOL! More dribble. I know plenty of vegan mothers and their bright, talented brood who would make you look like an invalid with their intelligence. B12 deficiency is more common in meat eaters. Did you not know that? Of course, it doesn’t suit your agenda to know the truth. And stupid parents come from all walks of life. A few idiots not breast feeding newborns does not = all vegans. I bet you I can find more child abuse by meat eaters than I can by vegans, and that is per 100 people too.

          Do you actually think before you type?

          • laurelladesborough

            Alex, looks like you know how to be insulting, but that proves nothing. The only agenda I have is this…people should be free to make their own choices as regards what they eat. If you don’t want to eat meat…fine with me. However, it should be NONE of your business if I happen to choose to eat meat. That is the bottom line here.

    • Tracey Dunn Williamson

      Interesting try at justification for excusing meat eaters from the horrendous cruelties they fund. Your word play – “sacrifice” and ” create less pain ” are typical of those who are socially conditioned to think meat eating is normal for humans and that slaughter is humane. Have you done any real research into slaughter ? Of course not, it would be too inconvenient to know the real suffering your meat causes. And I don’t see true carnivores cooking and seasoning their meat. Humans are necrovores. Abuse of factory farmed animals is a widespread cancer and turning your head and pretending it is not rampant , is what most people do to justify the horrors they support. Look into the beef industry and all the other evil acts they are behind, like horse slaughter, wolf killing, pollution, bison culls and the $ 50 million dollars a year of tax money used to slaughter millions of wildlife for their industry. A greedy cruel unneeded evil. My philosophy , my morals and my money do not support it.

      • laurelladesborough

        Tracey, Just because you have adopted a Vegan philosophy does not mean you have automatically reached some kind of moral high ground, except in your own mind. Vegans are responsible for the massacre of millions of birds and animals that dwell on the ground…when those acres are cleared for soy! So, enough of the moral high ground b.s. because as long as humans live on the planet, they are going to be responsible for the death of other creatures, from wildlife to domestic animals. That is simple reality. And if you live within any type of civilized environment, YOU are part of this massacre, whether or not you approve of it. I am well aware of slaughter houses, perhaps a lot more than you are. I am well aware of HOW food is produced, whether that is soy, vegetables, fruits, nuts or hogs and poultry. As long as the human race exists on the planet, we will be responsible for the death of other creatures…that is just reality and there is NO ESCAPE from it, because that is how our bodies are designed…we are designed to consume food, whether it is plants or meat…and both of those do require the death of other living creatures. The best we can do is be as responsible as possible, as kind as possible and cause as little injury and pain as possible. That is all we can do. To imagine otherwise is to live in a fantasy land that doesn’t exist.

        • Fleurmione

          Living compassionately causes as little suffering as possible, as far as is practical. Raising animals as food undoubtedly causes them suffering, and almost all animal products will have caused animals to suffer horrifically. Even if you imagine that all of the thousands of videos and pictures from inside the industry have been faked (quite a stretch, but let’s go with it!) the ‘routine’ animal farming practices are barbaric – cutting off baby pigs testicles and tails without pain relief, throwing male baby chicks into grinders for the egg industry, the milk industry taking baby cows from their mothers and locking them in tiny stalls… the list goes on and on and on. It’s not necessary, it’s cruel, it’s bad for your health and it’s bad for the planet. Try living as compassionately as possible – you might like it! Plus vegan food is AWESOME 🙂

        • Nicole Jaja

          – most of soy crops goes to feed factory farmed animals.
          – soy is not some ultimate food which vegans rutinely eat. in fact, many vegans stay away from soy.
          – veganism does not call for “0% cruelty”, it calls for the least amount of cruelty possible, with our current resources.
          you justifying eating meat just because there are some accidental deaths of animals when growing plants, is illogical.

          • laurelladesborough

            How do you know most soy crops are grown to feed factory farmed animals? Ever heard of corn? Veganism is a modern cult, no more, no less, with lots of ideas that are far from reality. The point is simple. When vegans say that it is better to eat plants because NO animals are killed, that is a bald faced lie. MANY birds and animals die when fields are cleared for planting. That is a simple fact. If you were on a farm, you would see it for yourself. Veganism may make individuals feel all self-righteous, but as long as you live in a civilized society, you are using and consuming all sorts of products that are related to animal products. Do some research and find out more about the origin of products. Then you will realize it is not so simple.

          • Nicole Jaja

            a good resource to start is -The Food Revolution by John Robbins
            both soy and corn crops goes to feed factory farmed animals. only a small percentage goes to human consumption.
            and have you seriously ignored my other points? are you trolling or what? i specifically said that veganism is NOT about perfection.
            and as i said, you justifying eating meat just because there are some accidental deaths of animals when growing plants, is illogical.

          • laurelladesborough

            Seriously. I don’t have time to be a troll!!!! I am concerned when I read anything at all about animals and animal rights stuff. Here is why. Whether or not most vegans realize it, the animal rights agenda is to remove ALL animals from humans. This is not my imagination, it is the reported statements of leaders in these various AR orgs. Why is this a problem? It is a problem because humans need animals…for many purposes. One of the most important is for interaction: pets, companions, helpers, guards, and a connection with nature. When humans lose their connection with nature, we are all going to be at risk of losing our place on the planet. So, the issue is an ethical one with serious consequences for the human race. I don’t justify eating meat…IMO it is a choice that individuals should be able to make. It isn’t right for any group to dictate to the rest of humans what should be done, unless it is irresponsible and inhumane or evil.

          • Nicole Jaja

            so since i provided a resource for you in regards to crops and farmed animals, you now moved onto a different topic – that vegans want to free all animals?
            how is THAT not trolling?

            connection with nature? how exactly is breeding animals for hundreds of years (like we did with dogs and cats), creating artificial food for them (kibble) all just so we could claim ownership over them, in any way “a connection with nature”?
            a connection with nature is visiting wild animals in their natural habitat, observing them, maybe try to interact with them if they´re willing to (and are not posing a serious danger to us, of course), and then go our separate ways. or just spending some time in nature, near lake, listening to the sounds of nature, or hiking is connecting with nature.
            being a speciesist – this animal is a companion and this animal is food IS losing the connection.
            and the planet does not need human race. it would be better off if humans would die off, but remove bees or insects and the whole system collapses. we are not so important like you think we are.

          • laurelladesborough

            My understanding of trolling is someone simply saying nasty things without any real stuff in the comment. Since I do interact with wild animals from a distance, I understand that…native birds and small animals, turtles, even grasshoppers. As far as thinking we are important, I don’t think I ever said that becaues I don’t think like that. I am the kind of person who picks up the spider in the house and sets it ouside rather than kill it. I have spent a lifetime admiring the works of nature. The problem with humans is that many lack a real understanding of nature. That includes understanding their pets. However, understanding and liking nature doesn’t mean removing all animals from humans. That is a serious flaw in thinking because what humans do not know on an intimate basis, they do not admire, respect or conserve.

          • Nicole Jaja

            as i said, being a speciesist – this animal is companion and this animal is food helps nothing. it´s actually making a disconnection. not until humans will make the connection that all animals (companion animals, farmed animals, wild animals) deserve our admiration, respect, protection, they won´t have a real understanding of nature.
            dogs and cats and farmed animals have been domesticated for far too long to be able to survive in the wild, so it´d be irresponsible to free them. all we can do is offer them protection, that we won´t exploit them further.

          • Alex

            You called someone a troll for answering you with intelligence. You called vegans a cult. You’re the one saying nasty things you dolt. Bloody hypocrite and a speciesist to boot.

          • Alex

            A modern cult? You don’t know your history. Even in ancient times you had the likes of Plato et al questioning our use of animals for food.

            The fact you call us a cult shows you are digging a hole. You resort to insults when backed into a corner. Fact of the matter is, vegans do cause less suffering in their diet, and a large proportion of the worlds’ crops DO feed the animals you pay to have killed for your greedy gob. Even if we were to look at wildlife killed by agricultural methods when growing plant matter, we would still find the vegan with a lesser environmental and animal killing impact because we are not capable of eating the amount of plant matter a cow can eat or a pig, etc. They eat far more in a day than we do in a week, if not more.

            You’re struggling for excuses to try and remove any guilt you clearly know you feel. It doesn’t wash with those who clearly know a lot more about veganism, animal rights, agriculture, and the world than you do.

            Troll on dear, troll on.

          • laurelladesborough

            First, I feel no guilt with regard to animals because my entire work is PRO animal…the only reason I am commenting at all here is to provide some information that presents the opposite of the vegan belief system. Plato discussing eating animals does not equate to a vegan cult. When vegans mount campaigns with fake information (see PETA and HSUS published materials), then you have to consider they may be pushing a cult. Because if they were presenting science based information they would not have to fake it. You know a lot about animal rights? Good for you. I have been watching these radicals since 1984 and I think I have a really good history on their b.s. and bad behavior. Example: releasing mink from fur farms to be killed in the road or starve in the woods. Turning off the air conditioning in hog buildings so the hogs die from the heat. Confiscating birds and animals in such a way they manage to kill a few in the process. Releasing laboratory mice to the outdoors where they ALL die since they haven’t been outdoors for generations and have no clue as to finding food or avoiding predators. Oh…suing federal agencies to force them to put in place regulations which were NOT intended by Congress when the laws were passed. Shall I go on? I do know about animal rights, and likely far more than you or anyone else in the vegan camp…since you all tend to simply believe your leaders.

    • MateoMatters

      Actually Humans and Chimpanzees come from a common ancestor, we did not evolve from chimps, therefore that justification for eating meat is void.

      • laurelladesborough

        I did not say that because chimps eat meat it justifies humans eating meat. I said it was simply a natural function of humans to do so. Please explain to me how eskimos would have survived without eating meat…or explain how early man would have been able to acquire the necessary B12 vitamins without eating meat…because there were no drug pharmacies in those days. There was only plants and animals and fruits and nuts. period.

        • Alex

          B12 is a bacteria! It is fed to modern farmed animals! We make bloody B12 in our bodies. And our daily requirement for it is minute! Early man would’ve got it from plants that grew naturally in untainted soil – the place where B12 is naturally found. Jesus, get bloody educated. You haven’t a clue. If meat eating was so natural we’d all be out on all fours hunting prey animals and eating them fucking raw. Are you that dense you can’t even understand what a true obligate omnivore does? You truly haven’t a fucking clue.

  • just thinkin

    What classifies one as an investigator vs. a terriorist.

Concerned about endangered animals? Stop eating them

Methods of animal conservation that support the exploitation of animals don’t exist for the animals, they exist for human profit.

Why we SHOULDN’T genetically ‘disenhance’ animals

Creating bandaid “solutions” to ethical problems we’ve created doesn’t address the issue at hand

What you can do if live exports disturb you

The outcry should go further than importation and should be directed at the fact that the animals in question were on their way to slaughter in the first place.