DawnWatch: Smithfield to phase out sow gestation crates — Wall Street Journal 1/25/07

January 26th, 2007 3:16 pm by Kelly Garbato

UPDATE, 1/28/07: PETA also wrote about the Smithfields (semi-) victory. They urge readers to:

Please send a kind note thanking Smithfield officials for making the right choice for animals, and encourage them to keep working with PETA and other animal protection advocates to make improvements in how they treat animals:

Dennis Treacy, Vice President of Environmental and Corporate Affairs
Smithfield Foods, Inc.
200 Commerce St.
Smithfield, VA 23430
information [at] smithfieldfoods.com

For more information, see Farm Sanctuary’s gestation crate campaign here.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Jan 25, 2007 3:25 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Smithfield to phase out sow gestation crates — Wall Street Journal 1/25/07

The Thursday, January 25 Wall Street Journal includes an article by Lauren Etter headed, “Smithfield to Phase Out Crates. Big Pork Producer Yields To Activists, Customers, On Animal-Welfare Issue.” (pg 14)

The article opens:

“Smithfield Foods Inc., the nation’s largest pork producer, plans to announce today that it will phase out “gestation crates” at all of its company-owned sow farms over the next decade.

“The company has come under fire by animal-rights activists in recent years over the crates, where some female pigs can spend most of their lives. The issue also played a role in last year’s midterm elections.

“Smithfield is the first major pork producer to move to ban the crates, but the company’s efforts may not be fast enough for critics. ‘It’s a big step,’ says Bernard Rollin, a professor of philosophy at Colorado State University and animal-rights researcher. But ‘it’s not quick enough.'”

Rollins says about the crates: “If you see one you’ll never forget it.”

You can at least see a picture of one, and also a video, on the HSUS website where there is a press release about the Smithfield announcement: http://www.hsus.org/farm/news/ournews/nations_largest_pork.html.

The Wall Street Journal articles tells us that in the crates, sows “can’t turn around, walk or stretch their legs.” The sow goes to a farrowing crate to give birth and then is reintroduced to the gestation crate shortly later when she becomes pregnant again by artificial insemination.

We read:

“Smithfield will replace the crates with ‘group housing,’ where the animals can socialize with one another. The pens will hold between six and 55 sows, depending on the size of the barn, according to the company. The crates at Smithfield’s farms will be phased out completely by 2017. The company also contracts with farms. At those farms crates will have to be phased out by 2027.”

The article notes that the move comes as a result of pressure from Smithfield customers such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. It also notes,

“Arizona voters passed an initiative, called the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act, which requires farmers to house sows in pens larger than the gestation crates. In 2002 Florida passed a similar regulation. The gestation crates are banned in Europe.”

It is probably fair to say that Smithfield saw the writing on the wall — the industry fears a similar ballot initiative in California will be next — and volunteered some change. It is important for animal advocates to note, however, that the Smithfield changes will not come into effect for ten or twenty years, and also that the changes hardly make life on the factory farms — in communal concrete pens — a pleasure.

If you missed the superb article about Smithfield in the December 14, 2006 edition of Rolling Stone, check it out at http://tinyurl.com/vr8vn.

It surely added significantly to the pressure that has brought about this move.

You’ll find the a pre-view of today’s Wall Street Journal article on line at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116969807556687337.html.

As a Journal subscriber I can access the full article and share the following link at which those who do not subscribe to the Wall Street Journal should be able to view the article until Thursday February 2: http://tinyurl.com/39f6no.

The article opens the door for letters to the editor about the suffering of animals on factory farms. Please give those animals a voice on the Journal’s editorial pages. Those enjoying plant-based diets should sing their praises.

The Wall Street Journal takes letters at wsj.ltrs [at] wsj.com.

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published. And please be sure not to use any exact comments or phrases from me or from any other alerts in your letters. Editors are looking for original responses from their readers.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line.)

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