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Williams Sausage to eliminate gestation crates from supply chain

Williams Sausage to eliminate gestation crates from supply chain

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 8:00 pm

The Humane Society of the United States recently applauded Woodland Mills-based Williams Sausage Co. for its policy to eliminate controversial gestation crates from its pork supply chain. Gestation crates are cages used to tightly confine breeding pigs to the point that the animals can’t even turn around.
In a letter to The HSUS, Roger Williams, the company’s CEO wrote:
“Williams Sausage Company takes the welfare of animals very seriously, and we support the elimination of gestation stall housing for sows. We are asking our suppliers to present their plans by 2017 that address the elimination of gestation stalls, with an understanding that a phase-out may be a long-term process and could take up to ten years. Working together with our suppliers Williams Sausage is committed to continuous improvement of animal welfare practices in our industry.”
“We welcome Williams Sausage’s decision to work with its suppliers to eliminate gestation crates,” said Josh Balk, corporate policy director of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “With so many of the top pork buyers enacting similar policies, the pork industry’s future is assuredly one without inhumane gestation crates.”
Similar announcements made recently by Oscar Mayer, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Safeway, Kroger and more than 40 other leading food companies signal a reversal in a three-decade-old trend in the pork industry that leaves most breeding pigs confined day and night in gestation crates during their four-month pregnancy. These cages are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and designed to prevent them from even turning around. The animals are subsequently transferred into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization. This confinement system has come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers and others.
• Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of mother pigs.
• Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “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.”
• Leading pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free.

Published in The Messenger 1.15.13