Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
when the mission of such groups is to abolish the use of ani-
mals by humans, which greatly differs from the views of those
in food production.
To see why pork producers might oppose federal legisla-
tion on egg production, consider two important facts. First,
although gestation stalls have been banned in eight states
(or, more accurately, will be banned at a precise future date),
those states raise relatively few hogs. Second, most pork
production takes place in states that are protected from
state-level initiatives to ban gestation stalls. The states with
the highest hog populations are also ones in which state-level
initiatives are either not allowed, or the requirements to get
initiatives on the ballot are so stringent that an initiative
to ban gestation stalls seems almost impossible. Gestation
stalls in the United States are thus safe from state-level leg-
islation, but producers don't want the possibility of federal
regulations either.
The pork industry is under some pressure from retailers,
though. Companies like Kroger, Subway, McDonald's, Denny's,
Target, Sysco, Oscar Mayer, and Conagra have announced
intentions to source pork produced without gestation stalls.
Gestation stalls do lower production costs, but converting to
group pens only raises the cost of producing retail pork by
about 2  percent. For these reasons, some in the pork indus-
try are making moves towards a voluntary switch from gesta-
tion stalls to group pens, a move Smithfield Foods (the largest
pork producer in the world) announced it was making years
ago. This doesn't mean gestation stalls will soon be a histori-
cal relic, for animal scientists are far from agreed that group
pens are better. Some, like Dr.  Janeen Salak-Johnson of the
University of Illinois, have been especially vocal in lamenting
that decisions about how sows are raised are beginning to be
made not by farmers, animal scientists, and veterinarians, but
retailers and restaurants. What does seem certain is that some
portion of the pork industry is converting to group-pens due
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