Pork end-users such as McDonalds, Safeway and Burger King have recently announced plans to buy pork only from suppliers that were willing to phase out individual sow housing. And last week McDonalds said it wants the phase out to happen in 10 years. Reacting to such decisions, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) says it is "very disconcerting that retailers" are succumbing to pressures from activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States "without any consideration of the impact on American farm families."
"These unilateral and impulsive announcements are made without any recognition that nearly all of the pork products produced in the United States today come from facilities built for the validated practice of gestation stalls," it says. " Nowhere in the announcements is there any discussion on the willingness of these companies to pay for these requests. These are very complex issues that require interaction of the complete supply chain. Simply making an announcement without understanding the supply chain's ability to meet the requests or the costs associated with them are simply irresponsible. Our customers need to understand that these announcements come with severe and unintended consequences."
"We believe there is a responsibility to ensure that there is transparency, and these food retailers have an obligation to assure their customers that the product they are purchasing is coming from verified sources," adds NPPC. "These forced changes on our producers' choice of sow housing may very well put hog farmers out of business and will certainly increase the price of pork for consumers."