We’re suing the world’s largest pork producer for misleading the public about animal abuse

By on October 18, 2021 with 4 Comments

Today the Humane Society of the United States filed a lawsuit against Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, for misleading consumers about animal abuse in its supply chain.

A little background: It is common practice in big animal agriculture to use “gestation crates.” These cages are barely larger than a pig’s body, and these cages are where female pigs are locked away while they are pregnant, which happens repeatedly throughout their lives, so they produce more and more pigs. We have documented these intelligent animals gnawing on the bars of their gestation crates until their mouths bleed—an act of desperate frustration. So, it’s no wonder that people are increasingly demanding the end of gestation crates. Companies like Smithfield want to give the people what they want—or, in Smithfield’s case, they want to appear to.

Our lawsuit alleges that Smithfield is unlawfully misleading the public about having eliminated gestation crates for mother pigs—cages barely larger than the animals’ own bodies that prevent them from even turning around.

Smithfield’s gestation crate promise goes back over a decade: In 2007, Smithfield promised to phase out gestation crates on all company-owned farms within a decade. Then, in 2009, Smithfield backtracked on that promise. In response, our HSUS investigators went undercover at a Smithfield-owned subsidiary’s sow farm in Virginia. What they captured was the brutal reality these highly intelligent, sensitive animals face when locked inside gestation crates. Soon after, Smithfield recommitted to eliminating gestation crates by 2017.

Fast forward to 2018, when Smithfield claimed to have achieved its promise to eliminate gestation crates on all company-owned farms by converting to a “group housing” system, where mother pigs are housed in groups instead of locked in individual cages.

But, in reality, Smithfield did not eliminate gestation crates, and only marginally improved these animals’ lives.

Smithfield’s so-called “group housing” system is actually a cycle that moves pigs from crates to groups and back to crates again for their whole lives. Thus, despite Smithfield’s deceptive claims, even for animals on company-owned farms, the gestation crate practice was merely reduced, not eliminated; sows still spend roughly half of their lives imprisoned in crates.

Innumerable consumers shop with animal welfare in mind, and many of Smithfield’s largest corporate customers have made their own commitments to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Thus, it is unlawfully misleading, our lawsuit alleges, for Smithfield to claim it has met its commitment (which was to eliminate gestation crates) when, in fact, pigs still remain locked in crates on Smithfield’s factory farms for much of their lives.

Ending cruel farm animal confinement is a top priority for us. No company should be able to get away with seeking humane consumers’ dollars while engaging in cruel practices behind closed doors. We will hold these companies accountable to their promises.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.

Here’s why animal agriculture must be central at UN climate change summit

By on October 14, 2021 with 0 Comments
Here’s why animal agriculture must be central at UN climate change summit

The facts are clear: More than 88 billion land animals are bred, raised and slaughtered for food every year. The animal agriculture industry is responsible for at least 14.5% to 16.5% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions globally, on par with emissions from all the planes, . . . 

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American imports of giraffe trophies and body parts are driving the animals to extinction

By on October 12, 2021 with 3 Comments
American imports of giraffe trophies and body parts are driving the animals to extinction

Giraffes, with their iconic long necks and unmistakable, beautifully patterned coats, are facing extinction. There are currently fewer than 69,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild today. And the threats of habitat loss and illegal hunting for bushmeat are only exacerbated by demand for giraffe . . . 

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US government agency reportedly killed 8 wolf pups in their den

By on October 11, 2021 with 5 Comments
US government agency reportedly killed 8 wolf pups in their den

In the spring, wolf dens are usually full of young pups being raised by their parents and helper wolves, but when one den in Idaho was discovered vacant earlier this year, biologists worked on uncovering the reason. Today, the Washington Post reported that eight wolf . . . 

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Massive win for migratory birds as much-needed protection gets restored

By on October 8, 2021 with 1 Comment
Massive win for migratory birds as much-needed protection gets restored

North American bird populations have declined by three billion birds since 1970, which is just one of the reasons why the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has been such an important source of protection for birds for decades. So, it felt like a terrible threat when . . . 

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There’s still time to speak out against bear hunts that put mothers and newborn cubs in danger

By on October 6, 2021 with 11 Comments
There’s still time to speak out against bear hunts that put mothers and newborn cubs in danger

For all of us, fall is a time for winter preparation. For black bears, that means packing on the pounds to build a fat layer robust enough to withstand months of winter hibernation without eating, and even more so for female bears who will birth . . . 

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Saving Cecil’s descendants from trophy hunting

By on October 4, 2021 with 5 Comments
Saving Cecil’s descendants from trophy hunting

In August, reports began to surface that a lion in Zimbabwe, who was beloved by local communities, was likely lured out of Hwange National Park and allegedly killed by an American trophy hunter. His name was Mopane. For anyone who followed the story of Cecil . . . 

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The Humane Legislator of the Year Award goes to Rep. Paul Tonko

By on September 30, 2021 with 3 Comments
The Humane Legislator of the Year Award goes to Rep. Paul Tonko

While 2020 was no ordinary year, each and every one of us associated with the Humane Society family of organizations did our best to make it an extraordinary one for animals. Here in the U.S., our colleagues at the Humane Society Legislative Fund finished strong . . . 

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Spinner dolphins finally get the much-needed protection they deserve

By on September 29, 2021 with 1 Comment
Spinner dolphins finally get the much-needed protection they deserve

Hawaiian spinner dolphins, named for their acrobatic displays like leaping out of the water and spinning in the air, are nocturnal. To make it harder for sharks to detect them, they hunt for food and socialize at night. During the day, they rest in sheltered . . . 

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It’s National Voter Registration Day: Here’s why your vote matters for animals

By on September 28, 2021 with 1 Comment
It’s National Voter Registration Day: Here’s why your vote matters for animals

Our mission is to end suffering for all animals, and this so often centers around boosting the public policy work of the humane movement. That’s why we encourage supporters to advocate for animal protection legislation and related proposals by contacting their elected officials and becoming . . . 

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Wolves in the Northern Rockies move closer to getting protections they desperately need

By on September 22, 2021 with 4 Comments
Wolves in the Northern Rockies move closer to getting protections they desperately need

Wolves in the Northern Rockies may warrant federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week, largely because of extreme wolf-killing laws recently passed in Idaho and Montana. The agency’s decision comes in response to a legal petition . . . 

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More victories leading to the end of the cage age for farm animals

By on September 21, 2021 with 1 Comment
More victories leading to the end of the cage age for farm animals

For years, we at the Humane Society family of organizations have waged campaigns—through the boardroom to the ballot box—to eliminate the abusive practices of locking egg-laying hens in cages and mother pigs in gestation crates, practices that cause immense suffering for a staggering number of . . . 

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