Target places a bulls-eye on gestation stalls

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Everyone is familiar with Target stores’ iconic bulls-eye trademark, now the retailer is making its mark on the gestation-sow stall issue. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., the nation’s second-largest discount retailer wants its pork suppliers to eliminate the gestation-stall housing system from its supply chain by 2022.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released the announcement, complementing Target “for wielding its immense purchasing power to make a huge improvement in animal welfare by eliminating controversial pig gestation crates from its pork supply chain.”

Target is the nation’s fourth-largest food retailer. For its part, Target stated on its “Responsible Sourcing” website, stated: “Target is committed to working with our vendors on the elimination of sow gestation crates by 2022. Target recognizes this task will involve a large undertaking from our pork product vendors and we will partner closely with our vendors as they work through this transition.”

Exactly what that means or will entail has not been clarified.

“Target’s got gestation crates in its crosshairs and should be commended for working to improve conditions for pigs in its supply chain,” stated Matthew Prescott, HSUS food policy director. “Americans simply don’t support the lifelong confinement of animals in cages so small they can’t even turn around, and it’s both an ethical decision and good business move for Target to recognize that.”

This brings the tally to 36 food-related companies to commit to eliminating gestation-sow stalls from their supply chains. Interestingly, Wal-Mart—the nation’s No. 1 discount retailer and Target’s most direct and vehement competitor has stayed mum on the subject of gestation-sow stalls. That’s not without trying, animal activists attempted to pressure Wal-Mart into similar action earlier this year.

Target has nearly 1,800 locations in 49 states, and in 2011 began expanding into Canada. Its 2012 revenue is reported at $69.87 billion, with net income for the year at $2.93 billion. The retailer currently employees an estimated 365,000 workers. The company reports Target’s median shopper is 41 years old, the youngest of all of its major competitors. The median household income of Target's customer base is roughly $63,000 annually. An estimated 76 percent of Target customers are female; about 80 percent of its customer base has attended college, with 48 percent having completed college.

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Charlotte Lucas    
Indiana  |  November, 02, 2012 at 09:17 PM

Without the gestation crates the mother sow will either lay on her babies and kill them or she will eat some of them. The gestation crate does't hurt the sow or the babies it keeps bad things from happening to the babies. Farmers have wrestled with this situation for hundreds of years and this gestation crate has evolved over time to save the lives of the babies. Good grief people, research all this stuff before taking any kind of stand against it. The HSUS is a very extreme animal activist group that doesn't really care about the animals themselves. They just want to collect as much money as possible from unsuspecting people by using the puppy mill program they've dreamed up. They don't protect any animals at all. They don't feed any animals themselves and they aren't connected to any state or local animal shelters. Research, research, research!!!!! I don't want to tell them how and what to eat and I sure don't want them telling me what I can eat!!!!

Iowa  |  November, 03, 2012 at 07:24 PM

HSUS stopped horse slaughter in USA, we received in-humane treatment and starving unwanted horses . This action gave Very Negative results. So think about this before its to late ! We slowly moved to stalls in the 70's and early 1980's No more beet up sows, no more thin bulled sows. No more fat low producing bullies that had short lives. Conservationist measure habitat quality by the growth of any animal population ( good habitat results in more productive animals) The stalls have lead the improved production and improved efficiency of pork production and better use of water and energy resources. This is better for the environment. The EU pork price is projected to soar in 2013 as stalls are to be fazed out in Jan production and quality of life will drop to 1970 levels for sows. Would you like to have a medical procedure done with 1970 methods or drive on 1970 roads that is what HSUS is asking for . We are to use primitive production methods and be forced to allow fights like Michael Vick. I would rather have everyone see sows in stalls than to see the fights that penned sows have to endure to live and eat daily. But I now think Food Co. Presidents need to witness the group battles to truly understand why stalls are better.

kansas  |  November, 05, 2012 at 08:49 AM

Take Action - Become Amicus to Feld Entertainment RICCO Suit against HSUS. Put the litigation-bullies and P.R. blackmailers down now, before the lying liars' propanganda has enthralled the gullible masses completely. And don't forget to vote tomorrow; Remember MF Global & Heave Ho - Vilsack and Crew Must Go!

Larry Liepold    
November, 05, 2012 at 08:55 AM

Most everyone knows this but I feel the need to remind the non-producer readers that the consideration of stall free production is the gestation stall, not the farrowing stall Ms. Lucas is describing. This industry must never lose the ability to use any type of enclousre that protects the pigs from being crushed or maimed. Should that happen the 36 companies that have asked their suppliers to limit the use of individual penning during gestation will be looked at as not having the best interest of the animals well being in mind. Sows can be aggressive. Many times a producer does not know the temperment at farrowing until that first time. Farrowing stalls offer protection to the piglet, gives each an equal access to the udder, and opprotunity for a dry, warm, sanitary place to rest. Individual care is provided to each sow just as in any setting where a birth takes place, farrowing, calving and kidding areas, a hospital, adequate attention can be provided in the critical time before and immediately after parturation.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  November, 05, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Well said, Michael. Joining Amicus to the Feld RICCO litigation against HSUS is, in the words of Captain August McCrae of the Texas Rangers, "Money well spent. Both Times"

garrison, tx  |  November, 05, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Amen Glen!!! Tell it like it is!!!

SD  |  November, 09, 2012 at 05:56 PM

You have some excellent comments here! The only thing needed is to also explain that the current systems for raising MOST food animals have been designed by experts, using the best of animal science to keep the animals as healthy and well cared for as possible. Who on earth cannot understand that we cannot mistreat animals and expect to make a living raising them, let alone any of that profit so many seem to find offensive. Makes one wonder just who can survive without SOMEBODY making a profit???? BTW, those experts did their work to make animals more comfortable and safe AT THE REQUEST OF THE FARMERS who understood the need for better systems than their fathers and grandftahers producing animals NATURALLY had!


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