Sadly, the list of companies announcing they will force their pork suppliers to move away from sow gestation stalls continues to grow longer.
These companies are playing follow the leader and unfortunately the leader is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Amazingly somehow HSUS has been able to convince these companies that they are the “experts” on animal welfare while the real experts are being ignored.
Dr. Janeen Salak-Johnson, associate professor of stress physiology and animal well being at the University of Illinois, said last week on AgriTalk that these decisions are not based on science. She points out that HSUS is bullying these companies to make changes not based on current science and that it is unethical to ask some producers to make the change to group housing systems.
Still the announcements keep coming. Why? First, it gets HSUS off their backs (for the time being) and it sounds good to an uninformed public. They seem to figure that not enough people even know what a gestation stall is so they won’t question why a change is being made or who is behind it. Dr. Salak-Johnson said the only time she was asked by one of these companies about this was AFTER they had made the decision to change.
As is so often the case these days, facts are not driving the debate. Instead of making some adjustments to the gestation stall system, companies will try to force pork producers to make complete and costly changes to their production systems and not make things better for the animals. So who benefits the most? HSUS. Each announcement makes them money at the expense of producers and consumers. Each announcement allows HSUS to tout their growing influence while raising more contributions.
Meanwhile pork producers either go out of business or suffer financial setbacks and consumers will pay more for pork products. It’s a win/win for HSUS and their vegan agenda. I wish the pork industry had been able to explain better to the public why gestation stall systems are used to protect the animals from each other and assure them the proper amount of food.
That still needs to be done but unfortunately the sow may already be out of the barn.