Pork Producers Must Have ‘Rocks in Their Heads’ to Use Sow Crates

“You’d have to have rocks in your head to build a new sow barn with gestating sow stalls.” That’s how the Western Producer, an agribusiness trade publication, began a recent editorial.

Yet it seems that some in the world of pork production, and their hired PR frontmen, may indeed have rocks in their heads. How else can you explain the behavior of companies like Tyson Foods that continue to defend locking pigs in two-foot-wide metal gestation crates where the 500-pound animals can’t even turn around for essentially their entire lives? Read more

Odd Bedfellows: Paul Harvey and the Animal Agriculture Alliance

The Animal Agriculture Alliance—a group that defends virtually every factory farming practice out there—issued a press release this past week praising Dodge for its Super Bowl commercial featuring Paul Harvey’s “God Made a Farmer” speech.

The AAA waxed poetic, calling Harvey’s speech the “crowning glory” of the commercial and extolled the late broadcaster as “legendary.”

One wonders if the Alliance recalls that Paul Harvey was a great advocate; an advocate for ending some of the most abusive practices in animal agriculture—practices the Alliance rigorously defends. Read more

The Pork Industry: Out of Touch and Out of Time

The Vancouver Sun’s headline this week read almost like it was from The Onion: “Body slamming piglets to death humane, pork experts say.”

But it wasn’t a joke. Unfortunately, the article was about the pork industry’s response to the latest animal cruelty investigation, an exposé which documented severe and routine abuse on a pig factory farm. Caught on tape were standard pork industry practices such as slamming live pigs against concrete, locking pigs in tiny cages for months on end, cutting parts of their bodies off without painkiller and more. Read more

Vote for Meatless Mondays! (VIDEO)

Americans eat more meat per capita than nearly any other nation in the world, and it shows. Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat-eater, it seems all of us agree that it would be better for public health, the planet, and animals if the Standard American Diet (SAD) incorporated more plants and fewer animals.

Fortunately, that’s what’s starting to happen, as Meatless Mondays are catching on all across the country. From school districts to hospital cafeterias to restaurant chains, more Americans are experiencing the benefits of meat-free fare. And now a great video from the Humane Society of the United States explaining the why, who, and how of Meatless Monday has been nominated for a DoGooder award! You can vote for the Meatless Monday video the “Large Organization” category here. Watch the video: Read more

It’s Plants’ Time in the Sun

How many times have you checked a food package to see where it was produced, wondering about all the energy it took to get from the farm to your fork? Once an issue that few people pondered, the “eat local” movement has inspired conscientious consumers all over the country to contemplate how we can each do better by the planet at meal-time. The issue’s gone so mainstream that even TIME magazine published a cover story a few years ago entitled, “Forget Organic—Eat Local.”

Well, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article, we would be wiser to reconsider the amount of meat products on our grocery list rather than merely looking for how many miles our food may have traveled.

How much more concerned should we be? A lot. Read more

Important Progress for Animals in Ohio

After months of signature gathering in Ohio for a proposed ballot measure that would improve conditions for farm animals in the state, Buckeye animal advocates achieved early progress on animal welfare reforms that few people would have thought possible in Ohio. To be honest, many of us working on the campaign wouldn’t have imagined this outcome even just a few short weeks ago.

With prospects looming for a November vote on the ballot measure,  Ohioans for Humane Farms, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Ohio Farm Bureau agreed to implement a broad range of important animal welfare reforms in the state. Read more

An Isolated Act of Abuse, or a Standard Industry Practice That’s Also Abusive?

The agribusiness sector has been abuzz with complaints about ABC’s recent Nightline exposé of the biggest dairy factory farm in one of the largest dairy production states: New York. The segment features footage compiled by Mercy for Animals showing inhumane treatment of dairy cows, followed by ABC’s interview of the operation’s owner rationalizing that he doesn’t know if it hurts the animals, because as he put it, “I can’t speak for the cow.”

Agribusiness spokespeople predictably dismissed the story as a “propaganda piece” and “lacking…factual information.”

Reading industry responses to these kinds of investigations is always interesting to me. Whether it’s exposés of pig factory farms, egg factory farms, or now this dairy investigation, some ag producers seem to have a “circle the wagons” mentality that prompts them to attack anyone who’s critical of industry practices. In many cases, they resort to the industry mantra that farm animal suffering only occurs as isolated cases, not as part of standard industry practices. Read more

Attacking the Messenger: Big Ag’s Attempt to Misdirect Attention from Its Own Problems

Reading agribusiness officials’ responses to undercover exposés documenting egregious acts of cruelty to farm animals can be truly mind-boggling. I’ve written about this before, and feel compelled to follow up with a couple more recent sordid examples.

When faced with gruesome images of mistreatment of farm animals, rather than simply condemning the cruelty, some in agribusiness just can’t leave it at that. They feel the need also to attack the compassionate investigators who put themselves at great risk to go undercover and blow the whistle on such abuse.

For example, a new Mercy for Animals investigation involved videotaping workers at one of the nation’s largest pork companies throwing piglets by their ears and legs across the room, cramming pigs into cages barely larger than their own bodies for months on end, and even leaving pigs with untreated prolapses, sores and other health problems.

And what’s the response of the president of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, Dr. Butch Baker? Quite simply: These types of investigations “really are an attack on the rural lifestyle of America.” Read more

IHOP Supports Animal Cruelty, Lags Behind Competitors and Customers

IHOP tells its customers to “come hungry, leave happy,” but an increasing number of its customers are hungry for something that’s not yet on the menu—animal welfare improvements.

Unlike many other major restaurant chains—including Denny’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Quiznos, Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., and Red Robin—every single egg IHOP uses comes from a hen confined in a cage so small, she can’t even spread her wings. That’s right: 100% of the eggs IHOP sources come from battery cage confinement operations. Even more, IHOP’s primary egg supplier, Michael Foods, was just exposed by an undercover investigation that documented particularly egregious acts of animal cruelty. Read more