The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not impressed with Tyson Foods’ launch of a new animal well-being auditing program for its suppliers, but that should not come as a surprise.
“Audits are valuable if farm inspectors ask the right set of questions. We’ve not suggested that Tyson contractors are denying food to animals or intentionally abusing them, but that they are denying them enough space to even turn around,” says Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and chief executive officer. At issue is gestation-sow stalls. “Tyson’s announcement would mean more if the company was getting its pork from farmers who do not confine sows in crates that immobilize the animals,” Pacelle says.
HSUS has attempted to pressure Tyson into eliminating gestation-sow stalls from its supply chain, as it has with 34 other food companies (at last count). Last winter, HSUS submitted a shareholder resolution to attempt to force the meat and poultry processor to embrace group-sow housing. The effort failed, but the topic will reappear at the company’s next annual meeting as HSUS has submitted another shareholder resolution. It is requesting that the Springdale, Ark.-based pork producer/packer disclose how it plans to meet—as HSUS puts it, “the growing demand for pork produced without the use of gestation crates.”
In May, HSUS filed a legal complaint with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) asserting that Tyson Foods is making deceptive public statements related to animal well-being. The animal rights group argued that “the company (Tyson) lacked any meaningful audit program.” Pointing to Tyson’s FarmCheck auditing program, announced last week, HSUS says it “rings hollow” because it does not address gestation-sow stalls.
Also in the works, HSUS has filed the paperwork for Pacelle to pursue election to Tyson Foods’ board of directors. According to HSUS, billionaire investor Carl Icahn has agreed to serve as an adviser in Pacelle’s effort to join the board.