Last week, The Humane Society of the United States announced the wrapping of municipal buses in the District of Columbia and Des Moines, Iowa, in images of pigs held in gestation-crate facilities, leaving riders, drivers and pedestrians with a startling picture and a simple message: “How would you like to spend the rest of your life in a space as small as a bus seat?”
Why D.C. and Des Moines? In our nation’s capital, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been doling out hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to the pork industry, and asking nothing from producers in terms of more space for the animals, a phase-out of non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics, or proper manure management. And Des Moines is the capital of the biggest pork-producing state in the nation, with nearly 20 million pigs. There, we’re working with small family farmers who are raising their animals a better way – one that does not involve lifetime immobilization.
That new advertising campaign is just a small part of our attempt to bring comprehensive reform within industrialized animal agriculture. About our broader efforts, Meatingplace magazine wrote, “HSUS and its efforts are having an impact” and, regarding our work with food retailers, “Tapping into a source of influence is a move that HSUS has executed flawlessly.” Pork magazine editorialized that “HSUS plays a masterful game.”
Our groundbreaking programs and victories for animals — outlined below in a summary of “Top 10 Accomplishments for Farm Animals” in 2012 — were covered in the pages of every major national newspaper, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and more. “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” reported on our undercover investigation of an egg factory farm.
1. Corporate Gestation Crate Bans
McDonald’s. Burger King. Wendy’s. Target. Kroger. Safeway. Sysco. The list goes on. Starting in February, announcements of The HSUS’s partnerships with food industry titans held steady through the year, with 50 major companies announcing plans to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Meatingplace put a fine point on it when it noted, “The move [from gestation crates to group housing] is inevitable.”
2. Rhode Island Outlaws Gestation Crates and Cattle Tail Docking
In June, with The HSUS calling for action, Rhode Island became the ninth U.S. state to outlaw the gestation crate confinement of pigs and the fourth state to outlaw the cruel practice of cutting off portions of dairy cows’ tails (known as tail docking).
3. End in Sight for Barren Battery Cages
This year, members of the U.S. House and Senate introduced legislation to ban the barren battery cage, with the bills attracting support, partly because The HSUS and the United Egg Producers joined forces. More than 170 members support the legislation, as well as the nation’s major newspapers, including The New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Minneapolis Star Tribune. At the same time, Burger King, hotel leader Hyatt and food giant Unilever announced conversions to 100 percent cage-free eggs, while food service titan Sodexo committed to sourcing 100 percent of its shell eggs from cage-free hens. Other companies — like Dunkin Brands and Safeway — increased the amount of cage-free eggs in their supply chains.
4. Broadening Our Base of Allies by Partnering with Farmers
We’re working with farmers to show animal agriculture need not be cruel, and that providing proper care to animals can be economically viable. As Nebraska farmer and HSUS member Kevin Fulton says, it’s his goal to assure that “animals raised for food should only have one bad day.” The HSUS has also worked with Fulton and rank-and-file farmers to create Agricultural Advisory Councils in Colorado and Nebraska, to amplify the voices of farmers who reject inhumane confinement practices and want to preserve family farms. We’ve also partnered with farmers on lawsuits to challenge the misuse of funds in the beef and pork check-off programs for lobbying activities that promote industrialization and the dissolution of family farms.
5. Sinking Our Teeth into Meatless Mondays
We worked to remind consumers to reduce their meat consumption by advocating for Meatless Mondays. We helped entire school districts — like Broward County in Florida, Pleasanton Unified School District in California and Detroit Public Schools — adopt “Meatless Monday” programs, as well as schools like Icahn Charter Schools in New York City and Harvard University. We also helped dozens of hospitals, corporate cafeterias and individual restaurants create Meatless Monday menus.
6. Animal Abuse Exposed in Undercover Investigations
The HSUS’s undercover investigators exposed extreme animal suffering at four major factory farms in 2012: Kreider egg farms in Pennsylvania, Wyoming Premium Farms in Wyoming (a Tyson Foods pig supplier), and two leading pork companies — Seaboard Foods and Prestage Farms — in Oklahoma. In each case, the investigations generated national attention. In response to these investigations, agribusiness groups have pushed for “ag-gag” laws to make it harder for citizens to blow the whistle on farm animal cruelty.
7. Federal Court Upholds California’s Proposition 2
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 2, the California ballot measure banning the inhumane confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves in cages so small the animals cannot stretch their limbs, stand up, lie down or turn around. Acting on motions filed by The HSUS and the California Attorney General, the court rejected each and every challenge to the ballot measure that had been filed by a disgruntled California egg producer earlier in the year.
8. Largest Ever Animal Cruelty Judgment Meted Out Against Slaughter Plant Exposed by HSUS
In November, a settlement stemming from The HSUS’s 2008 undercover investigation documenting extreme animal abuse at a slaughterhouse producing meat for America’s school lunch program resulted in a final, symbolic judgment against the Hallmark Meat Packing Company of nearly $500 million – the largest ever of its kind.
9. Force-Feeding for Foie Gras Outlawed in California
Just days before Independence Day, ducks and geese force-fed for foie gras (fattened liver) gained their independence from cruelty when California’s law prohibiting the sale and production of this product took effect. The HSUS defended the law — which means no more birds in California being force-fed for this cruel product and no more California restaurants selling the product — against last-minute attacks from the factory farming industry and prevailed.
10. International Progress
On the international front, we also saw the Animal Welfare Board of India state that battery cage confinement is in violation of India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, with several Indian states supporting this interpretation. We helped to stop the construction of a massive foie gras production facility in China, persuading a U.K. based-investment company to withdraw financing for the project. Humane Society International also assisted groups in China, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Brazil and Mexico with action alerts and twitter storm campaigns pressuring McDonald’s to extend its phase-out of gestation crates to Asia and Latin America.