Timeline of Major Farm Animal Protection Advancements
The HSUS has been concerned about farm animal protection since its founding in 1954 and has led national efforts to advance farm animal protection. Our work has included passing farm animal welfare laws, exposing consumers to how farm animals are typically mistreated, and working with retailers to improve farm animal welfare in their supply chains.
In 2002, The HSUS drove passage of a Florida ballot initiative to phase out the use of gestation crates—the first state law to restrict a production practice on animal welfare grounds. Since that vote, The HSUS and other animal welfare advocates have driven a host of reforms.
Below is a timeline of some of the most important advancements made for farm animals in the last decade. Assuredly there are more to come.
Feb. 19: Sodexo, the world’s second largest food service company, announces an extensive animal welfare policy for its U.S. operations. Changes include eliminating cages for egg-laying chickens by switching 20 million pounds of liquid eggs (affecting 750,000 chickens), reinforcing its gestation crate elimination policy, eliminating veal crates and addressing tail docking, dehorning and castration. The company serves 15 million meals a day in the U.S.
Dec. 23: Starbucks, with more than 12,000 outlets across the U.S., announces an extensive policy eliminating the caging of egg-laying chickens and mother pigs, the use of artificial growth hormones and, for chickens and turkeys, artificially fast growing practices. Other changes include elimination of dehorning, tail docking and castration with no painkiller and shifting the poultry industry away from live shackling at slaughter.
Dec. 17: Panera Bread, with roughly 1,800 locations, announces that 18 percent of its eggs are cage-free, the company will be gestation crate-free by 2015 and 80 percent of its beef is now from grass-fed animals.
Oct. 22: Delaware North Companies, the country's fourth-largest food service company, announces it will switch to exclusively cage-free eggs, including shell and liquid. The company employs over 55,000 people worldwide and has over $2.6 billion in annual revenues.
Oct. 2: Centerplate, one of the country's largest food service companies, announces it's switching all of its shell eggs to cage-free and eliminating gestation crates.
Sept. 9: Heinz announces it will switch 20 percent of its eggs to cage-free throughout its North American operations by the end of 2015.
Sept. 8: Clemens Food Group, one of the largest pork producers in the country, announces it is eliminating gestation crates throughout its supply chain and shifting to the best type of group housing, called electronic sow feeding.
Sept. 2: Unilever announces it will become the first company to work with the global egg industry to end its killing of male chicks.
Aug. 21: Nestle announces an overhauled animal welfare program that includes eliminating cruel confinement crates/cages and cruel practices such as the cutting of horns, tails and genitals of farm animals without painkillers.
July 25: The American Veterinary Medical Association modifies its long-held position on gestation crate confinement to make clear that sow housing should provide animals with improved quality and quantity of space that allow them to assume “normal postures and express normal patterns of behavior.”
June 9: Cargill issues a groundbreaking announcement that it will convert all company-owned and contractor-owned sow operations away from gestation crates by the end of 2017. As the company states, “we believe it is the right thing to do for the long term future of pork production in the U.S., and our customers agree with us and support our decision.”
May 20: Hormel Foods announces that it has converted 25 percent of its sows to group housing.
May 6: At the company’s annual meeting, shareholders of Kraft Foods (the world’s second-largest food company) overwhelmingly vote in favor of a proposal praising the company for working to eliminate gestation crates from its Oscar Mayer supply chain.
April 29: Einstein Noah Restaurant Group (Einstein Bros. Bagels) announces more progress eliminating gestation crates from its supply chain: requiring quarterly progress reports from pork suppliers.
April 21: DineEquity, owner of restaurant icons IHOP restaurants and Applebee’s announces it will request its pork suppliers to produce annual reports regarding their progress toward providing pork produced without the use of gestation crates.
April 11: McDonald’s largest franchisee in Latin America – Arcos Dorados – announces in conjunction with Humane Society International stating that it will be moving away from gestation crates in its pork supply chain.
March 24: Denny’s announces the next phase in its program to ensure its pork supply comes from farmers using group housing instead of gestation stalls: requiring regular progress updates from its suppliers regarding their work eliminating those stalls.
March 19: Jack in the Box newest Animal Welfare Report mandates annual updates from its pork suppliers on their progress eliminating gestation crates.
March 13: SUPERVALU (which operates Farm Fresh, Shop ‘n Save, Cub Foods, Save-A-Lot and other top supermarket chains) announces that as part of its work to move its supply chain away from gestation crates, it’ll ask all pork vendors for progress reports in 2014 showing where they are in the process of switching to group housing.
March 10: Kentucky becomes the eight state to ban confining veal calves in crates.
March 6: Canada enacts a national ban on perpetually confining breeding sows in gestation crates. The ban is included in the National Farm Animal Care Council’s new Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs. As mandated by the Codes, “For all holdings newly built or rebuilt or brought into use for the first time after July 1, 2014, mated gilts and sows must be housed in groups.” The Codes also make clear the future of sow housing in Canada must allow animals greater freedom of movement.
March 4: Delaware North Companies, the country's 4th-largest food service company (employs over 55,000 people worldwide and has over $2.6 billion in annual revenues) announces, "[W]e are proud to work with our contract suppliers in addressing concerns regarding sow gestation crates. Together, we are working towards eliminating the purchase of pork products from animals bred using gestation crates in our U.S. supply chain by 2017."
February 11: Delhaize, the country's ninth-largest grocer (with more than 1,500 locations under its Food Lion, Hannaford, and Bottom Dollar brands), announced a new policy regarding gestation crates. "Consistent with its commitment to animal welfare, Delhaize America is encouraging supplier efforts to eliminate gestation stall housing for sows and move to open pen solutions," stated Delhaize in a news release. "The company is asking all suppliers to report in 2014 on their progress in this direction."
February 7: President Obama signed into law the federal Farm Bill; after a long battle, The HSUS and a coalition of other national organizations succeeded in stripping from the Bill an amendment proposed by Iowa Rep. Steve King that would have nullified many state farm-animal protection laws.
February 4: Wendy's announces the latest phase in its animal welfare program, which includes required quarterly reporting from all pork suppliers on their progress eliminating gestation crates.
January 27: The USDA shut down a calf slaughter plant in New Jersey, following an HSUS investigation and extensive complaint detailing egregious animal abuse.
January 27: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld as constitutional California's ban on the sale, production, and import of foie gras, ending some last-ditch efforts to nullify that law, which passed in 2004.
January 22: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines announces the next phase in its work to remove gestation crates from its supply chain. In 2012, the company made its first announcement on this issue, and is now requiring that its pork suppliers provide their plans for moving beyond gestation crates by 2022, "in order to determine which producers share Royal Caribbean's objective of moving to a gestation-rate free pork supply."
January 14: The Cheesecake Factory updated its gestation crate policy by announcing that, among other steps, it will require pork suppliers to provide annual reports detailing their progress moving toward group housing.
January 9: Tyson Foods changed its position on gestation crates by announcing that it has, as a first step, instructed all the pig breeders in its supply system that "future sow housing" must allow sows to turn around and engage in other natural behaviors prevented by gestation crates.
January 7: Smithfield Foods announced that it will require all contract pig breeders in its supply system to convert from gestation crates to group housing for sows by 2022, with incentives for those that do it sooner.
January: GlassLewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)—two of the most influential firms in the financial sector—released reports painting gestation crates as a fiscal risk. GlassLewis, for example, concluded, "The use of gestation crates could place companies at a financial disadvantage from an operational perspective."
December 19: Safeway announced further progress in its sow-housing efforts, including that it has successfully eliminated gestation crates from its Eastern Division pork supply. Read the full announcement [PDF].
November 18: A shareholder proposal seeking investor support for Cracker Barrel's shift away from gestation crates became the first animal-welfare related proposal to pass at a major American company, garnering 96 percent of the shareholder vote.
November 14: Papa John's, an international pizza outlet with more than 4,000 stores, announced it will join other major restaurant chains in working to eliminate controversial gestation crates from its supply chain.
November 8: Ahold USA, the country's 4th-largest grocery chain, operating brands such as Stop & Shop and Giant, including nearly 770 supermarkets in 13 states, announced it will work to eliminate the lifelong confinement of caged pigs from its supply chain.
October 4: Roundy's Supermarkets, a leading Midwest supermarket chain, announced it's eliminating gestation crates in its supply chain by 2022. Roundy's earned nearly $4 billion in sales, has more than 20,00 employees, and operates 161 retail grocery stores and 100 pharmacies under the Pick 'n Save, Rainbow, Copps, Metro Market and Mariano's retail banners.
July 2: Quiznos, one of the largest restaurant chains in the world, with more than 4,000 locations globally, announced it's eliminating gestation crates from its supply chain between 2017 and 2022. In its statement, Quiznos said, "It should come as no surprise to the pork industry or our customers that Quiznos is doing the right thing by now working to ensure an entirely gestation crate-free pork supply."
May 29: Johnsonville Sausage, the largest sausage company in the United States, announced it's eliminating gestation crates from its supply chain by 2025.
April 29: Every leading Canadian retailer made a joint announcement opposing gestation crates and creates timeline to source pork from alternative housing systems by 2022. The retailers include Walmart Canada, Costco Canada, Metro, Loblaw, Safeway Canada, Federated Co-operatives, Sobeys, and Co-op Atlantic.
April 3: Tim Hortons, Canada's largest fast food chain with more than 4,000 locations in Canada and the U.S., announced it will eliminate gestation crates in its pork supply chain by 2022 and work with governmental and industry entities to eliminate gestation crates across Canada.
March 13: Bob Evans, a restaurant chain with more than 700 locations and a food product manufacturer, announced it will eliminate gestation crates in its pork supply chain by 2022.
January 23: Applebee's and IHOP (owned by DineEquity), which has 3,400 locations across the country, announced it will eliminate gestation crates in its pork supply chain by 2020.
January 22: Marriott International, which operates 3,700 properties in 74 countries and territories, announced it will eliminate gestation crates in its supply chain by 2018 and switch to exclusively cage-free eggs by 2015.
January 22: General Mills, one of the largest food manufacturers in the world, announced it will eliminate gestation crates in its pork supply chain.
January 21: Au Bon Pain, a restaurant chain with more than 250 locations across 26 states, announced it will eliminate gestation crates in its supply chain and switch to exclusively cage-free eggs by 2017.
January 11: Williams Sausage Company, one of the largest sausage manufacturers in the country, announced it will eliminate gestation crates in its supply chain.
December 20: Arby's, one of the largest restaurant chains in the country with more than 3,500 locations, announced it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain.
December 18: Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, owner of Einstein Bros. Bagels, Noah's New York Bagels, and Manhattan Bagels, announced it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2017.
December 14: Supervalu, one of the largest supermarket chains in the United States, announced it will eliminate gestation crates, calling on suppliers to provide plans by 2017 for becoming gestation crate-free.
December 5: Royal Caribbean, the world's second largest cruise liner, announced it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2022.
November: Metz Culinary Management, one of North America's top food service companies, announced it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2017.
October: Target, the nation's fourth-largest food retailer with nearly 1,800 locations in 49 states, announced it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2022.
October: Carnival Cruise Lines, the largest cruise line company in the world, announced it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chains by 2022.
October: The Cheesecake Factory, which operates 173 full-service casual dining restaurants throughout the U.S., announced it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chains by 2022.
October: Bruegger's Bagels, which has over 300 locations in 25 states, announced an elimination of gestation crates within its supply chain by 2022.
September: Dunkin' Brands, one of the world's largest restaurant chains, announced that it will eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain and begin switching to cage-free eggs.
September: ConAgra Foods, one of the nation's largest food companies, announced that it will eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
September: Hillshire Brands—a major meat company operating the Jimmy Dean, Ballpark, and Hillshire Farm brands—announces that it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2022.
September: Atlantic Premium Brands—a leading pork distributor to Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Supervalu, Winn-Dixie, Albertson's, and other major retailers—announces that it will eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain by 2017.
September: Jack in the Box, Inc., which operates both the Jack in the Box and Qdoba chains, announces that it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2022.
September: Wienerschnitzel, the nation's biggest hot dog chain, announces it will work with its suppliers to get gestation crates out of its supply chain by 2022.
August: SUBWAY announces that it is working to eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2022.
August: Campbell Soup Co. announces that it is working to eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2017, and will reach the goal no later than 2022.
August: ARAMARK, the largest U.S.-based food service company, announces it's eliminating gestation crates in its supply chain by 2017.
August: Harris Teeter Supermarkets—with more than 200 locations throughout the Southeast—announces that it will eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain. Harris Teeter also becomes the first conventional grocery chain to announce that it will work toward ensuring all eggs it sells come from cage-free hens.
July: Costco, the nation's second-largest retailer, announces that it will eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2022.
July: Sysco, North America's largest distribution company, serving 400,000 clients, announces it's creating a gestation crate-free supply chain.
July: Sodexo, the world's second-largest food service company, serving 10 million meals a day, announces its timeline for becoming gestation crate-free.
July: Kraft Foods, the world's second-largest food company and owner of Oscar Mayer brand pork products, announces its timeline for becoming gestation crate-free.
July: Fresh Enterprises, owner of the Baja Fresh, La Salsa Mexican Grill and Canyon's Burger restaurant chains, issues a joint press release with The HSUS to announce its plans to become gestation crate-free.
July: CKE Restaurants, owner of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains, sets a timeline for ensuring that its pork supply is gestation crate-free.
June: HSUS-backed legislation passed in Rhode Island to outlaw the use of gestation crates and veal crates, as well as the practice of cattle tail-docking.
June: Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain, announces that it will eliminate gestation crate pig confinement from its supply chain.
June: Cracker Barrel, which has 615 locations in more than 40 states, announced via a joint press release with HSUS that it will eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
June: Sonic, a chain with 3,500 fast food locations nationwide, announced that it is working to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain by 2017, and intends to accomplish that goal by 2022 at the latest.
May: McDonald's made a second gestation crate announcement: that its pork supply chain will be 100 percent gestation crate-free by 2022.
May: Denny's announced that it will work to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
May: Safeway—the nation's fifth-largest food retailer—announced that it will work to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
May: The HSUS released the details of an undercover investigation at a gestation crate confinement factory farm which supplies pigs to meat giant Tyson Foods.
April: Burger King announced that it will transition to 100% cage-free eggs for all of its U.S. locations—both company-owned and franchised—and that it will eliminate the gestation crate confinement of pigs throughout its supply chain.
April: The HSUS released the details of an undercover investigation at a battery-cage confinement egg factory farm owned by Kreider Farms. The investigation spotlighted nationally in a New York Times column and on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer.
March: Wendy's, the second largest fast food chain in the country, announced it will eliminate gestation crates in its supply chain.
March: Compass Group, the largest food service company in the world, announced it will eliminate gestation crates in its supply chain by 2017. The company runs 10,000 dining facilities at schools, hospitals, corporate offices and other venues in the United States.
February: Bon Appétit Management Company, operating more than 400 dining facilities at schools, museums, and specialty venues, enacted an animal welfare policy to eliminate battery cage eggs, gestation crate pork, veal from crated calves, and foie gras.
February: McDonald's became the first major restaurant chain in the nation to announce that it wants a gestation crate-free supply chain, and begins a three-month assessment of how it can reach that goal.
January: The same day that HSUS released new undercover video footage of gestation crates, Hormel Foods—maker of SPAM—announced plans to become gestation crate-free at all company-owned facilities by 2017.
December: Smithfield Foods, which had reneged on its 2007 gestation crate pledge, recommits to its phase-out following public pressure from HSUS.
July: After years of opposition to one another, HSUS and the United Egg Producers agree to jointly lobby for federal legislation protecting animals on farms, which would make the use of barren battery cages to confine hens illegal in all 50 states, among other improvements.
February: Unilever—one of the biggest food companies in the world—became the first major food manufacturer to announce that it will switch to 100% cage-free eggs for all products it produces worldwide.
July: HSUS-led bill passed, outlawing the sale of whole eggs from caged hens (regardless of where they were produced) in California.
June: HSUS reached an agreement with Ohio Farm Bureau to lobby for new animal protection rules, leading to the adoption of regulations outlawing gestation crates and veal crates in Ohio, and putting a moratorium on the construction of new battery-cage egg facilities statewide.
October: HSUS-led bill passed, outlawing tail docking of cattle in California.
October: HSUS-led bill passed, outlawing gestation crates and veal crates in Michigan.
May: HSUS-led bill passed, outlawing gestation crates in Maine.
November: HSUS-led ballot measure passed, outlawing gestation crates, veal crates and battery cages in California.
May: HSUS-led bill passed, outlawing gestation crates inColorado.
January: HSUS undercover investigation at California slaughter plant led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history.
June: The Oregon legislature became the first in the nation to outlaw gestation crates by passing HSUS-led bill.
May: The American Veal Association passed a resolution encouraging the entire industry to phase out crate confinement of calves by 2017.
March: Burger King announced that it will become the first major U.S. restaurant chain to begin phasing in cage-free eggs and gestation crate-free pork. This decision rippled through the industry, and HSUS discussions subsequently led dozens more major food companies to adopt similar policies.
March: Wolfgang Puck, the world's most recognizable chef, announced that he will stop serving foie gras and will prohibit the use of gestation crates, veal crates, and battery cages in his supply chain.
February: Just three months after HSUS passes the first law prohibiting the crate confinement of veal calves, Strauss Veal and Marcho Farms—two of the largest veal producers—announced that they will be crate-free within two years.
January: Maple Leaf Foods, Canada's largest pork producer, committed to becoming 100% gestation crate-free in its corporate-owned facilities by 2017.
January: Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, committed to becoming 100% gestation crate-free in its corporate-owned facilities by 2017.
2006 and earlier
November 2006: HSUS-led ballot measure passed, outlawing gestation crates and veal crates in Arizona.
September 2004: California passed a law banning the sale and production of foie gras.
November 2002: HSUS-led ballot measure passed, outlawing gestation crates in Florida.