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November 10, 2011

Talk Back: The McFib and Cruel Gestation Crates

Yesterday, I wrote about arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court by the slaughterhouse industry and pork producers, working hand-in-hand with the Obama administration, to nullify a California law to stop cruelty to farm animals too sick or injured to walk. There was widespread news coverage about the case, and most reporters interpreted the reactions of the justices as favoring the slaughterhouse industry and the Obama administration over the state of California and HSUS and the other animal protection groups. It will be several months, in all likelihood, before the high court issues its ruling.

A breeding pig in a gestation crate at a Smithfield subsidiary in 2010
The HSUS

It’s not the only legal forum where we are battling the pork industry. Last week, The HSUS filed a complaint against Smithfield Foods for claiming that it keeps pigs in an “ideal” environment where their “every need is met,” and not surprisingly, it drew broad media attention and outrage. Our 2010 undercover investigation revealed a very different story at a Smithfield subsidiary: breeding pigs nearly immobilized in narrow crates, some biting the bars until their mouths bled, and animals with open sores and abscesses.

Since Smithfield is a top supplier of pork to McDonald’s, we’re urging the fast food company to move away from gestation crates in its supply line and urging Smithfield to make a specific commitment to phase out this extreme confinement.

Many of you were upset by the Smithfield news and wrote in with your comments:

It's painful looking at the pigs in their gestation crates, with blood on the cement before their eyes. Without using words the way we do, they're communicating their pain and agony. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I walk into my barn and wrap my arms around Howard, my 500-pound pink pig, sharing with him what the McDonald's pigs will never have. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how else may I convey pigs feel like we do? —Deborah Gilson

McDonald’s will move to change their supply metrics when their customers—ourselves—tell them to. Doing the "right thing" is not on management radar, and likewise will never be regarded as worthwhile by supplier Smithfield. Buying McDonald's products supports cruelty. Only when patrons stop doing so, will company management take notice. —Peter Hood

I thank you and The HSUS for filing this complaint. I only wish the majority of the public could be made aware of the plight of all factory farm animals. By whatever means the public is informed, that is the way to go. A public campaign against all businesses/corporations that benefit from the suffering of these animals must happen to make a forceful change in the way farm animals are bred, raised, and slaughtered. Slaughtering factories have their own horror stories which must be addressed also. —Ann Whittaker

I'm a meat eater and I eat ham. But I began boycotting Smithfield as soon as I got wind of this story, nearly a year ago. —Stacey Diehl

Sow gestation crates are one of the most cruel inventions that humanity has come up with. Pigs are exceptionally intelligent and curious—and even if they were not, they would deserve to stretch and turn around. What is a basic right if not that? One day humanity will look back on this like we do now on slavery and medieval torture and wonder HOW we could have accepted this? —Ann Nevans

I have posted this on my wall. I no longer eat pork because of their pain and suffering and I no longer eat poultry because of their pain and suffering. I certainly do not eat lamb or wildlife! I do my best now to always be aware of the pain and suffering of these animals. —Jane McCulloch

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