HSUS wants Tyson Foods to disclose gestation stall plans

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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has submitted a shareholder resolution to Tyson Foods requesting that the Springdale, Ark.-based pork producer/packer “disclose to shareholders how it plans to meet the growing demand for pork produced without the use of gestation crates.”

HSUS points to “poor earnings” in Tyson’s third-quarter profit report released on Aug. 6, which showed a 61 percent drop compared with the same quarter in 2011. The company had a third-quarter 2012 income of $76 million, or 21 cents per share, on $8.3 billion in sales. That compares with income of $196 million, or 51 cents per share, on sales of $8.25 billion for the same period a year earlier.

However, as Gary Mickelson, communications director for Tyson Foods, points out, “excluding a charge for the early extinguishment of debt, our third-quarter earnings per share was comparable to the same period last year” at $0.50 compared to $0.51 in 2011.

“We produced solid results in our fiscal third quarter despite softer than expected domestic demand for protein,” said Donnie Smith, Tyson Foods’ president and chief executive officer, during the Aug. 6, release of the company’s third-quarter report. He cited difficult market conditions in both the pork and beef sectors as reasons for lower than projected 2012 earnings. The rising cost of grain triggered by this summer’s widespread drought may continue to impact the company’s profit into 2013.  

“Tyson’s dwindling sales should be a wake-up call to the company that it needs to stop lagging behind its competition and customers on this important social issue,” said Matthew Prescott, HSUS food policy director. He points to Smithfield Foods’ and Hormel Foods’ decision to stop using gestation-sow stalls in company-owned operations within five years.

As a shareholder, HSUS pressured those companies on the gestation-stall issue. An HSUS referendum proposed to end the use of gestation stalls in production facilities associated with Tyson failed at the company’s annual meeting this past winter. In May, HSUS filed a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asserting the Tyson made "deceptive public statements related to animal well-being."

Regarding the current HSUS request, Mickelson told Pork Network, “We’re aware of the shareholder resolution from HSUS and will be reviewing it.”  

Specific to sow housing, Mickelson said, “We’re committed to humane animal treatment at all stages of food production and we expect the same from farms that supply us with livestock. Earlier this year we called on the hog farming industry to accelerate research into improved housing and production practices.  We believe this research should be completed as soon as possible to address questions and market demands.”

Mickelson pointed out that Tyson buys hogs from thousands of family farms. “Many of whom have individual housing (gestation stalls) for mother pigs, some of whom have group housing; experts believe both housing systems are humane for the mother pigs when managed properly,” he added. “As our customers provide consumers with choices, we will continue to work to meet those needs.”

Tyson Foods’ equity ownership of live-hog operations represents less than 3 percent of the company’s total pork production. That production is handled by The Pork Group, a wholly owned subsidiary that produces finished hogs, feeder pigs and weaned pigs for sale to pork processors and finishers nationwide.  

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USA  |  August, 17, 2012 at 06:30 PM

They don't seem to have as much pull as their lobbyists like to tell legislators. http://www.humanewatch.org/index.php/site/post/hsus_falls_flat_in_the_hoosier_state/?utm_source=title&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=hw_email I hear the story was much the same in Dallas at Pacelle's book opening.... mostly local familiar faces connected to the hot bed of animal liberation there. It was not a good showing for Dallas/ Ft. Worth region which has about a million people.

doug willimas    
usa  |  August, 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM

said Matthew Prescott, HSUS food policy director. Formerly at PETA now "traded up" to HSUS.. all the same. all vegans

NC  |  August, 18, 2012 at 12:47 PM

I am not quite sure but what other vegan animal rights movement based on morals has been able to push around the USDA. Please stop and think how HSUS and other animal rights organizations have removed from the economy of the USA over the last 10 years. The national deficit may pale in comparison. :>0 I have yet to figure out who gave them a badge and a gun to act in any form or fashion entering private property. They need to be added to the Animal Terriorism Act.....interfering with animal enterprizes and crossing state lines causing economic damage. Having HSUS oversee anything animal is like asking Jeffrey Dahlmer to baby sit.

mo.  |  August, 20, 2012 at 11:49 PM

their goal is to make us all vegan .buying into fast food to have a say on what they buy ,meat packing & how its raised to raise the price of food is away to keep people from buying it .if u cann't aford it u don't eat it .thats their goal .its ruining the economy at a time when theres already many folks who can't aford it ,& those who can get less with what they have. hsus with the lieing adds get money for dogs & cats when they have no shelters & less than 1% go's to help animals , in the form of grants .most shelters never get a dime .the funds go to their agenda & pockets,so please give to local shelters ,help your town pets .


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