Feb 1, 2007
Smithfield Foods, Inc., the nation's largest pork producer with 1.2 million sows, has announced plans to phase out the cruel practice of confining sows to “gestation crates” that don't allow them to move around during their lifetime of repeated pregnancies.
Smithfield's announcement is welcome news to the animal welfare community. It is happening in response to pressure from the company's customers who know that U.S. consumers are more aware and concerned than ever before about the suffering animals experience to put food on their tables.
WSPA Canada along with the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA) sent out a press release in response to Smithfield Foods urging Maple Leaf Foods, Canada's largest pork producer to follow suite. On January 31, Maple Leaf Foods announced it will follow its American counter part and phase out the use of sow gestation stalls in favour of group housing at all its hog production operations.
Sadly, the phasing in of larger group pens will take far too long—10 years at company owned farms and 20 years at farms that are sub-contractors. The amount of suffering millions of intelligent, sentient animals will experience during that time is immeasurable.
Europe, in contrast, has voted to ban gestation crates by 2013. WSPA is urging all other North American companies to follow Europe and Smithfield's lead by making this cruel practice history as soon as humanly, and humanely, possible.
We commend the ongoing efforts of many of our U.S. Member Societies including the Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary for their ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for millions of farm animals in our country.