McDonald’s Corporation today announced that it will require its U.S. pork suppliers to outline their plans to phase out the use of sow gestation stalls, a move supported by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
"McDonald’s believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future. There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows," said Dan Gorsky, senior vice president of McDonald’s North America Supply Chain Management. "McDonald’s wants to see the end of sow confinement in gestation stalls in our supply chain. We are beginning an assessment with our U.S. suppliers to determine how to build on the work already underway to reach that goal. In May, after receiving our suppliers’ plans, we’ll share results from the assessment and our next steps."
"The HSUS has been a long-time advocate for ending the use of gestation crates, and McDonald’s announcement is important and promising," said Wayne Pacelle, The HSUS’ president and CEO. "All animals deserve humane treatment, including farm animals, and it’s just wrong to immobilize animals for their whole lives in crates barely larger than their bodies."
Reacting to the decision, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said, "Today's decision by the McDonald’s Corp. to study its suppliers’ use of individual sow housing is an opportunity for the pork industry to respond to its customers. The National Pork Producers Council stands ready to offer its assistance to McDonald’s as it assesses sow housing. Farmers constantly are evolving and improving their operations to adapt to market conditions."
"A generation ago, pork demand was sagging because the product didn’t meet consumer demands. Farmers changed their practices. Today’s pork is leaner and more nutritious than ever, and today’s farmer is committed to responsible production. Farmers and animal care experts know that various types of housing systems can provide for the well-being of pigs. After an extensive review of scientific literature, the American Veterinary Medical Association determined that both individual sow housing and group housing can provide for the well-being of sows. Perhaps most importantly, today’s announcement reflects the best process for meeting evolving consumer demands – through the market, not through government mandates. Pork industry customers have expressed a desire to see changes in how pigs are raised. Farmers are responding and modifying their practices accordingly. That process is effective, it is efficient and doesn’t require an act of Congress. The pork industry supports a free market; it opposes legislative mandates on farmers pushed by special interest groups. Farmers are some of the most innovative and resourceful people in our country. They will continue to meet the ever-changing needs of customers and provide consumers with safe, nutritious and affordable food produced responsibly," says NPPC.