Commentary: Companies pacify HSUS - for now

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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.










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Allen Sneed    
Iowa  |  October, 02, 2012 at 04:01 PM

I think it is a losing battle as long as the pork industry continues to imply consumers are stupid while we can't figure out how to keep sows separate without condemning them to lives of misery in cages so small they can barely move. It doesn't take a degree in agriculture to figure out who the idiots are here.

wolfgang planz    
greensboro , nc  |  October, 02, 2012 at 06:13 PM

calling consumers stupid wont fix your dilemma ! Thanks for being such bad losers !

IL  |  October, 03, 2012 at 07:43 AM

The losers will be the conusmers who will either have to pay exorbitant prices for their pork, or do without pork altogether when HSUS gets its way and everyone is living a vegan lifestyle.

Jonathan Gilbert    
MN  |  October, 03, 2012 at 07:55 AM

Elvbend--Thaat quite a ridiculious comment. The numbers have been crunched by Smithfield, Cargill rtc etc and no the prices will NOT spiral out of control. The world will still spin on its axis. The sun will rise tomorrow.

IL  |  October, 03, 2012 at 09:00 AM

No, Jonathan, the companies are caving in to the HSUS fanatics. Like you. I remember you. You called me "Frankenstein" once. I know who you are and I know you are an HSUS schill.

Jersey Shore  |  October, 03, 2012 at 04:46 PM

HSUS isn't convincing these companies. HSUS is using it's 50 lawyers to repeatedly sue them, while flooding the SEC with idiotic complaints about their practices. Pacelle is even threatening the investment banks of uncooperative corporations like Tyson, warning that if they don't comply with HSUS demands, profits will sink, and the public, led by HSUS's phantom "11 million" supporters, will condemn and boyott them. HSUS's Food Policy Director, Matt Prescott, negotiates with food companies. Mr. Prescott fails to mention that he created PETA's Holocaust on a Plate campaign, lying to the Holocaust Museum in order to obtain graphic photos of starving Jews, to be juxtaposed with farm animal suffering. It's up to agricultural interests to mention that and more.

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  October, 03, 2012 at 08:39 PM

So Pat is saying that Tyson Foods, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500, the largest meat producer in the world, and one of the 100 largest companies in the United States with a yearly revenue of 32.3 BILLION is afraid of the HSUS. Lord save us all... How is it possible that so many of you slept through economics class.

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  October, 03, 2012 at 08:44 PM

So Pat is saying that Tyson Foods, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500, the largest meat producer in the world, and one of the 100 largest companies in the United States with a yearly revenue of 32.3 BILLION is afraid of the HSUS. Lord save us all... How is it possible that so many of you slept through economics class.

kansas  |  October, 04, 2012 at 01:24 AM

Ms. Ward - Such rich irony in your little adolescent snark, "so many of 'You' slept through economics class". "You"? Really? You self-aggrandizinng and self-righteous little twit. And such a fine demonstration of your ignorance of life, people and business in general... like the balance of your sniveling pack of fellow hsus trolls. Only a fool would think that gross revenue guarantees anything in the way of being impervious to the multi-million dollar attacks of radical, one-issue zealots via coporate blackmail, legisfare and persistent propaganda campaigns. The biggest corporations, governments/economies and societies have been drunk rolled by lesser forces... just ask GM, Russia, Japan, Facebook, MySpace, Greece, etc... Get a clue child.

IL  |  October, 04, 2012 at 09:44 AM

Folks, don't play into Terry Ward, she's a nasty little troll who only gets snarkier and nastier the more you comment on her pathetic postings. She's a known HSUS apologist and will only get more narcissistic the more you play into her. It does, however, show the third-grader mentality that those of us who believe in our constitutional rights have to deal with.

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  October, 04, 2012 at 08:33 PM

So Michael, you're admitting that you slept through economics class... But you sure did excel in drama.

IL  |  October, 05, 2012 at 07:54 AM

Terry Ward, your tart little remarks have no bearing whatsoever on this topic. HSUS is attempting to become a government entity - plain and simple. It uses bullying tactics, it uses its donor money to initiate lawsuits to but a stranglehold on food producers. And FYI, no I did not sleep through economics class. I have a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Economics and a concentration in Agribusiness. I can spot unfair trade practices when they stand out like a sore thumb. Animal husbandry practices are best left to the experts. HSUS is not an expert.

Terry Ward    
Pa  |  October, 05, 2012 at 01:06 PM

Alas, what is to explain your crimes against the rules of capitalization?

Carmen Kane    
Manitoba  |  October, 05, 2012 at 02:48 PM

I've worked on farms and know the miserable conditions inside sow barns that use gestation cages! This is not animal's quite simply animal cruelty. I completely agree with the consumers, with HSUS and with the oh so numerous and growing numbers that ask all farmers stop using gestation cages. I guess we haven't been listening..

il  |  October, 05, 2012 at 03:26 PM

To Carmen, you are assuming that all farmers farm in the same manner. There are very capable, humane farmers who use gestation stalls. Not every farmer is a cruel farmer.

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  October, 05, 2012 at 05:44 PM

Maybe it’s time to stop calling pigs in steel traps and sardine-can chickens and miles of semi-immobile cows ‘farming’. This is not farming. This never was ‘farming’. It is assembly-line food animal production/processing. There are farmers and there are assembly-line food producers. There is no logical or actual connection between the two. Farming is an honorable endeavor. There is nothing honorable in animals confined to steel cages or traveling through automated assembly lines like Toyotas and air conditioners, so why not just man up and stop pretending it is anything other then mechanized food production? Y'all keep tryin' on that ugly dress expecting everyone to think it's pretty. It's still ugly.

Janet Weeks V    
Sacramento, CA  |  October, 06, 2012 at 01:34 PM

Unbelievable how sorry for itself the "pork" industry feels. All their boo-hooing and feeling sorry for themselves are a bit much considering the billions of animals they torture and kill and the ruination of natural resources, the environment, and property values they cause. Gone are true family farms and honest animal "husbandry." In their place are animal factories, CAFOs or confined animal feeding operations, the very epitome of cold, heartless, calculated, profit-driven "meat" production at the animals' expense. One need do only a cursory flip through the pages of "The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories" to learn all they need to know about modern "pork" production and to see how far gone wrong it is. Here, for example, are just a few of the Index entries under "Swine": biodiversity loss; biological oxygen demand of waste; cloning; feed-to-meat conversion rates; genetic engineering research; insemination; natural behaviors; as research animals. And, under "Swine Feedlots": aberrant behaviors in; assembly-line production; bans on; community health concerns; consolidation of; deceptive depictions of; diseases associated with; efficiency of industrial food myth; family farms replaced by; gestation and birth; industrial- scale production; moratoriums on new; nursing piglets; Rollin's speech to swine producers; near slaughtering facilities; tail docking; waste production; water polluted by; water resources used by; and others. CAFOs are not farming or beneficent, symbiotic animal husbandry or "feeding the world." They are an ethical abomination. Pork industry: quit your bellyaching. Tear down your confinement sheds and build barns you don't have to be ashamed of. Better yet, grow veggies.

Lisa Scharin    
South Carolina  |  October, 07, 2012 at 04:44 PM

Well said Janet and Terry! YES! Farming has changed from what would be considered sustainable, and certainly humane. How could anyone think that confining any animal so intensely that it can not even turn around, let alone stand up is acceptable. These facilities deprive sensitive, intelligent, social creatures to the extreme. They go insane and if this is such a "healthy, desirable" means of "farming" than why the use of TONS of antibiotics and other drugs to keep these animals alive and healthy???!! COME ON!!! People are FINALLY realizing and FINALLY caring about how their food is "produced" and how these animals are treated- If factory farms and slaughter houses had glass walls-EVERYONE would be a vegetarian and a vegan! The practices allowed and brushed off as "standard practice" such as tail docking, horn culling, beak burning and smashing runts to the groung to kill them is truly barbaric, inhumane and heinous. If done to cats and dogs, these people would ALL be in prison! As a Christian I am commanded to be a "GOOD steward" of what GOD has created and GOD loves and cares for ALL HIS creation. Animals were created as Companions and help-mates before woman. Adam named ALL the animals-which implies deep love-you don't kill what you name! It wasn't until AFTER SIN that man had to toil for his food and death, murder and violence, pain,etc. began. Before that it was Paradise and NOTHING was harmed. People who eat a plant-based diet live longer, look younger, can maintain a wealthy weight and don't suffer from cancers, diabetes, obesity, etc as people who eat meat do. TIME TO WAKE UP that WE ARE animals too. Every animal is unique and deserves respect and love. Jesus taught compassion, mercy-this is absent of both

MN  |  October, 08, 2012 at 09:06 AM

Lisa, what is your background in animal production, or farming? Have you ever visited a hog farm before? I question your background knowledge for a few reasons. First, you stated that pigs are not capable of standing up when they are placed in their individual sow housing. If you had actually visited a farm, you would know that yes, the stalls are tall enough to accomodate a pig that is standing up. Second, you mention the mental state of the animals. What are the characteristics of a pig that is "going insane"? If you had any animal background, you would know that a pig chewing on a crate or pushing on the gating system is the pigs natural tendency to "root" or search for it's own food. And finally, do you have the financial records and antibiotic inventories from several hog companies to know exactly what a "TON" of antibiotic is? At our company, we take as many steps as we can in order to NOT use antibiotics, because we know the concern our consumers have in regards to the over-use of antibiotic and the possibility of antibiotic resistance. It does us no good to continually run antibiotics because they will eventually become ineffective, just like it would if humans overused them. I am all for every consumer having their own choice as to what type of meat the would, or would not, like to consume. But please, if you plan on informing the rest of the public on our "barbaric" practices, I would ask that you have your facts straight and do a little research first to find out the truths behind how we raise our animals.

Janet Weeks V    
Sacramento, CA  |  October, 08, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Better yet, read "The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories." All the information the public needs to know about factory farming is there with all facts and figures thoroughly cited. Two other excellent sources of information on the tragedy of "modern" slaughterhouses include: Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry by Gail Eisnitz, and Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight by Timothy Pachirat. I became vegan in 2008 and it was the best decision of my life. My primary motive was to end the suffering of animals raised on factory farms. After learning the truth about how animal products get from farm to fridge, the immense suffering the animals endure, and how factory farming is ruining the environment, land, water, and air, I said, "No more!" It was easy to crowd out animal products with a variety of healthful and delicious fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. I found I could eat all I wanted without gaining weight, in fact, I lost several pounds I needed to lose. Best of all, I was no longer supporting an industry that treats animals like production units and I was making the world better for my grandkids. I cannot recommend highly enough the switch to a cruelty-free, vegan lifestyle. For those needing help, this is a good place to start: For the animals; for our Earth; for your health!

J Clark    
New York  |  October, 08, 2012 at 11:06 AM

I never came across the word "stupid" in the article. There are many smart people who are uninformed and believe the misrepresented facts that are abundant. How many of you have seen the interactive behavior of adult sows?? If we made known the typical fighting behavior of these sows, many of you may change your tune about the gestation restraints. Just my humble opinion.

IL  |  October, 10, 2012 at 08:49 AM

So many people are several generations removed from farming that they only want to picture farming as pigs like Babe and dogs who talk to sheep rather than actually herd them. Cute movie but really, animals have a hierarchy and they will enforce it and sometimes it isn't pretty. If you choose, by your political or nutritional convictions, to be a vegan, that is your CHOICE. Please don't try to ram it down everyone's throat.


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