Shooting at notorious egg farm leaves worker dead

Posted Tuesday, August 20, 2013 in News

Shooting at notorious egg farm leaves worker dead

by Gina Hamilton

TURNER -- A shooting at the Moark egg farm, now owned and operated by Land o'Lakes, but for decades run by Jack DeCoster, left a 57-year-old man dead Tuesday.

The worker was shot when another worker was using a 22-caliber rifle to shoot rodents and stray chickens inside a chicken barn, which was being cleaned.

The DeCoster egg operation was plagued with problems, largely of their own making, from refusal to pay minimum wage, to violations of child labor laws, to feuds with neighbors over excrement, flies, and dead chicken carcasses that were left unburied for months, to repeated OSHA violations that led to sanctions.

The Maine Times repeatedly reported on the appalling conditions at the facility in Turner.

In 2010, an outbreak of salmonella connected to the DeCoster Egg empire sickened hundreds and killed 11.

DeCoster sold his interest in the farm to Land o'Lakes late in 2011, and central Maine legislators subsequently pushed through legislation relieving the company of the labor sanctions they were under.  Among the legislators who allowed the egg farm to start paying less than minimum wage and hire child labor again were Dale Crafts, R-Lisbon, and Jeffrey Timberlake, R-Turner, as well as Garrett Mason, R-Androscoggin. The legislators then received funding from Moark Egg Farms of the maximum allowed by law for their next campaigns.

No charges have yet been filed against the shooter, whose name has not yet been released, and the name of the victim has been withheld pending notification of family members.  However, it is illegal to discharge a weapon within 100 feet of a building.

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