Monday, June 11, 2012

Farmers Frustrated By Gestation Crate Bans

Progressive Farmer:

"We're tired of these announcements. It's been used simply as a get-out-of-jail card that really has no meaning or anything behind it," said Dallas Hockman, National Pork Producers Council vice president of industry relations. "We have not seen any of what I would call serious commitment by these groups (restaurants and retailers) to meet with suppliers and identify a sourcing for that commitment."
A new study released by NPPC at its annual expo in Des Moines shows that only 17.3% of the nation's sows spend a portion of their time in open housing, defined as a pen where a sow has room to turn around.
The survey had 70 responses from operations of 1,000 sows or more, which combined own about 3.6 million of the nation's 5.7 million sows. When asked about plans to put more sows in open pens, the operators indicated 23.8% of their sows would be in open pens within two years, a 6.5 percentage point increase.
Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain, announced early this week it's joining Wendy's, McDonald's, Smithfield Foods, Hormel Foods Corporation, Burger King, Denny's, Safeway and others in saying it will eventually stop buying pork produced using gestation crates.
In a recent news release, Kroger said it "concluded that there are many ways to humanely house sows. Kroger believes that a gestation-crate-free environment is more humane and that the pork industry should work toward gestation-crate-free housing for pregnant sows."
Just some advice for farmers, but if you are planning a new facility, plan an open pen facility.  These companies are going to have to follow through on those announcements, so you'll come out for the better.  If you have a gestation crate facility, start planning how you will make a conversion.  

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