After making sow housing a ballot issue in several states, radical animal activists turned their attention to food retailers and fast food chains in2012. HSUS was successful in pressuring McDonalds and many other major retailers to release high profile statements saying they would not longer buy pork produced with gestation crates. But after the headlines faded, these companies found the reality much harder to deal with. Dallas Hockman, with the NPPC, says the pork industry cannot deliver on these retailer demands, “What these companies are finding is that they cannot find the product in the marketplace. Only about 5% of the pork industry can provide pork segregated by an alternative sow housing system.”
Hockman says the pork industry is working quietly with these companies to explain they have been had by the activist agenda and that consumers are not that worried about sow housing, “If the customer wants, it our producers stand ready to provide it — if they are willing to pay for it and if the customers, the public, want it. The reality of the equation is that consumers are not asking for this.” From NPPC’s perspective, Hockman says it’s all about choice. NPPC believes producers should have a choice as to how they run their farms and take care of their animals instead of activist organizations dictating a care plan to producers.
Sow housing is not the only animal care issue the pork industry is addressing; other important issues include pain management and antibiotics. Hockman said the ultimate solution rests with the producer, “Making sure our producers are trained, making sure they abide by industry standards, that they are participating in these Care and PQA plus programs.” Hockman reiterates the importance of producers speaking up and telling their story to consumers. Consumers who would like to see and hear more about what pork producers actually do on their farms can go to www.porkcares.org.
Animal care issues will be among the topics discussed at the Midwest Pork Conference which will be held December 4 at the Hendricks County Conference Complex, 1900 E. Main Street, Danville, Indiana 46122.