Posts tagged extreme confinement of pigs

Oh Canada! Poised to lead the way to ban gestation crates

Pigs at the Pigs Peace Sanctuary

Pigs at the Pigs Peace Sanctuary

This just in from the HSUS:

Canada Set to Ban Lifelong Confinement of Pigs in Immobilizing Cages

Progress Draws into Question U.S. Pork Industry’s Animal Welfare Policies

(June 1, 2013) —Canadian pigs would no longer be confined perpetually in gestation crates during pregnancy under a proposal released for public comment by Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council. The plan earned applause from The Humane Society of the United States.

The draft proposes eliminating the confinement of breeding pigs in gestation crates—cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies designed to prevent them from even turning around.

“While Canada, the European Union, virtually every major global food retailer and many of the largest pork producers are taking steps to ensure that gestation crates are relegated to the dustbin of history, some U.S. pork industry leaders inexplicably continue to defend this cruel confinement,” said

Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “We hope The National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council will shift gears by helping their industry make the transition to higher animal welfare systems that allow pigs to move.”

Gestation crates, currently standard in pork production, have come under fire from veterinarians, family farmers, animal welfare advocates, legislators, scientists, consumers and food retailers. A recent national poll in Canada showed that 84 percent of Canadians support a complete phase out of the gestation crate confinement system. The poll was conducted by Environics Research Group between May 9 and May 18.
Canada’s move follows a European Union ban on continuous gestation crate confinement that went into effect in January 2013, legislation banning gestation crates in nine U.S. states, and public commitments from more than 50 of North America’s largest pork buyers and producers—McDonald’s, Burger King, Costco, Oscar Mayer, Kroger, Smithfield Foods, Hormel Foods and dozens more—to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains and operations.

The new draft of the Code of Practice will be up for confirmation by the council in 60 days. As the code is currently written, the construction of new gestation crate operations throughout Canada would be prohibited beginning in 2014, and producers would have to replace existing gestation crates with group housing by 2024.

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Clearing obstructions to humane treatment: Court upholds Prop 2 in California

Happy pigs napping at Pigs Peace Sanctuary

I think the HSUS press release explains this one best, so see below.  But essentially, a US court has upheld the constitutionality of a ballot measure to eventually phase out extreme confinement of certain farm animals in California.   Some information on the proposition is copied below.

“California Proposition 2 was enacted in 2008 by a statewide vote of 63.5 to 36.5 percent. It won in 47 of 58 counties, including in many top agricultural and rural counties. The measure granted producers a phase-in period of more than six years to transition to more humane housing systems, and is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.”

 RELEASE from the HSUS:

Federal Court Upholds California Ballot Measure Preventing Extreme Confinement of Farm Animals in Crates and Cages

Proposition 2 Cleared To Take Effect in 2015

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Sept. 12, 2012)–The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 2, the California ballot measure banning the inhumane confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and veal calves in cages so small the animals cannot stretch their limbs, lie down, or turn around. Acting on motions filed by The Humane Society of the United States and the California Attorney General, the Court rejected each and every challenge to the ballot measure, which was filed by a disgruntled California egg producer earlier this year.

In upholding the measure, the Court concluded that “Proposition 2 establishes a clear test that any law enforcement officer can apply, and that test does not require the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute.” The Court chastised the plaintiff for filing the case, noting that “the mere fact that Plaintiff dislikes or disagrees with the policy or language of Proposition 2 is not sufficient to sustain a Constitutional challenge.”
“We are delighted the Court has sided with the millions of California voters who supported this measure, and chose humane treatment over extreme confinement practices,” said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States. “Proposition 2 is a simple, basic humane standard that is easy to understand, and well within the State’s broad legal authority to prevent animal cruelty.”

California Proposition 2 was enacted in 2008 by a statewide vote of 63.5 to 36.5 percent. It won in 47 of 58 counties, including in many top agricultural and rural counties. The measure granted producers a phase-in period of more than six years to transition to more humane housing systems, and is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

The Humane Society of the United States, the main backer of the measure, and egg producers in California and nationwide are working together in the U.S. Congress to pass federal legislation— the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments, S. 3239 sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and H.R. 3798 sponsored by Reps. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., Sam Farr, D-Calif., and Jeff Denham, R-Calif.—that would extend the humane protections of Proposition 2 to the entire U.S. egg industry and phase out the use of barren battery cages over the next 15 to 18 years. A very limited number of farmers have begun to invest in enriched colony housing systems, which provide each bird with nearly double the amount of space as well as nesting areas and scratch pads so they can engage in more natural behaviors, in hopes that this legislation will pass and provide clarity for what is acceptable hen housing in all states in the future.

“Animal welfare groups and the egg industry had a divisive battle over Prop 2, but have now come together and found a solution that is good for animal welfare, the egg industry, and consumers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “With this lawsuit behind us, it’s now more clear than ever that Congress needs to pass a federal bill supported by all the major stakeholders—which would give protections not only to California’s 20 million laying hens but to all 285 million hens in the nation, and give egg producers a level playing field that provides stability and security for their industry.”

The HSUS was represented in the case pro bono by lawyers in the San Francisco office of Schiff Hardin, LLP, and The HSUS’ animal protection litigation section.

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Extreme confinement cruelty and the meat you eat

Horrific confinement of pigs in China. Please support only farmers who are humane to animals.

Imagine that you aren’t allowed to move your legs or lift you head because the cage you are in is the size and shape of your own body.  This is a condition even worse than in a puppy mill, where dogs are in cages not much larger than they are.  But pigs have it even worse.

Extreme confinement is probably one of the most atrocious cruelty acts caused by people and it is practiced in the pork industry.  It also causes deep emotional suffering to people who witness it — like us.

Not everyone is willing or able to be a vegetarian or vegan, but we can choose to buy meat and dairy only from humane farms who do not use extreme confinement. Consider only getting your meat from places like Whole Foods in the US or local farms near where you live that practice humane farming.

Furthermore, your support of groups that advocate for humane farm animal treatment is an excellent use of money — because this kind of suffering hurts the hearts and minds of people as well as pigs.

I am a proud supporter of The Humane Society of the United States and I have spent much of my life suffering emotionally due to my concern for animals — especially farm animals that could just as easily be raised for meat without extreme confinement.   And in recent years, due to the HSUS and other groups working to stop extreme confinement of farm animals, we have a glimmer of hope that some animals need not suffer so that you can have food on your table.

It is possible, and very practical, to have humane farms.  Just this week,  Rhode Island became the next in a string of states that have banned the porcine gestation crate which immobilizes pregnant pigs.  And it’s not just activist and legislators who are willing to end the use of extreme confinement. Fast food chains and food service companies are taking action as well.

Facts from the HSUS Press Release

  • Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Ohio and Oregon have all passed laws to phase out gestation crates. In addition to Rhode Island, bills on this issue are currently pending in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.
  • Since February, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s and Sonic have announced that they will eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains, as have Kroger and Safeway, the nation’s top two supermarket chains, and Compass Group, the world’s largest foodservice company.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue, stating: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”

But the picture of the caged pigs above it also disturbing because it is in China where laws to protect animals are scarce.  But you can certainly end your support of China’s actions by not buying meat from China.  Check your labels!

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