Ever see two sows fight it out for the right to the feed trough? I have. It’s not pretty. Gestation crates were created to help prevent the harm that sows do to each other when they are regrouped after their piglets are weaned. In a naturally aggressive state, like right after their piglets are weaned, sows develop a hierarchy in each social group through shoving, biting and hitting. It often lasts a day or two, and there can be serious damage to the sows and equipment in some cases. That is their natural animal behavior.
Yet still the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is pushing to end gestation crates, as evidenced by today’s filing with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against the National Pork Producers Council:
The Humane Society of the United States filed a legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asserting that the National Pork Producers Council is engaging in deceptive advertising related to animal well-being in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
The complaint alleges that the pork industry’s public descriptions of its "We Care Initiative" and deceptively titled "Pork Quality Assurance Plus" program are riddled with numerous false claims regarding the welfare of pigs, including the trade group’s patently false claim that its PQA Plus program helps to "ensure that all animals in the pork industry continue to receive humane care and handling."
The complaint explains how the abusive practices allowed by the We Care and PQA Plus programs are fundamentally inconsistent with the Pork Council’s public claims. The HSUS and other organizations have regularly documented practices in the pork industry that most consumers do not consider humane such as the extreme confinement of breeding sows in two-foot-wide metal cages, and painful procedures such as tail "docking," which is typically performed without any form of pain relief. —HSUS press release 4-18-2012
What worries me the most is HSUS’ attack on the producer program's "We Care Initiative" and "Pork Quality Assurance Plus." In my opinion, these producer programs are vital in educating producers on new animal health protocols, preventing disease contamination and maintaining meat quality.
It’s ironic that HSUS uses the FTC route, because just a couple of months ago it was their turn at the defense. In February, watchdog group HumaneWatch, operated by the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom, filed an FTC complaint about HSUS’ deceptive fundraising tactics.
What is your opinion on gestation crates, tail docking and the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program? Any hog producers want to comment? Type your thoughts below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.