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August 3, 2010

Shareholder Resolution Urges Tyson to Help Decrease Suffering of Pigs, Demonstrates that Company is Behind the Curve

The Humane Society of the United States submitted a shareholder resolution Tuesday asking Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods to issue a report detailing the company's progress in moving away from purchasing pork from suppliers that  confine pigs in gestation crates, cages barely larger than the animals' own bodies that  some pork producers use to confine breeding pigs.

"The confinement of sows in gestation crates is a major social issue, and legislation, science and public sentiment support moving away from them," stated Matthew Prescott, outreach director of The HSUS' factory farming campaign. "By switching to gestation crate-free pork, Tyson would greatly reduce the suffering pigs in its supply chain endure and improve its bottom line."

Currently, Tyson uses pork from suppliers that confine breeding pigs in gestation crates—tiny metal crates so small the animals can't even turn around. The animals are confined in these crates for their entire four-month pregnancy, placed into another crate to give birth, then put back into a gestation crate—pregnancy after pregnancy—until they are slaughtered.

Seven U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to outlaw gestation crates, and major companies like Burger King, Wendy's and Safeway have taken steps to increase purchases of gestation crate-free pork products. Renowned animal scientist Dr. Temple Grandin unequivocally states that "gestation crates for pigs are a real problem...Basically, you're asking a sow to live in an airline seat...I think it's something that needs to be phased out."

A copy of The HSUS's shareholder resolution is available upon request.

Facts:

  • About 70 percent of breeding sows in the United States are confined in crates so small the animals can barely move for their entire lives. Extensive scientific research confirms this causes suffering.
  • Burger King, Wendy's, Carl's Jr., Hardee's, Chipotle, Quizno's, Sonic, Wolfgang Puck, Safeway, and Whole Foods all have policies to reduce or eliminate their use of pork from pigs bred using gestation crates, as do Tyson competitors Cargill and Smithfield.  
  • An American Farm Bureau-funded poll found that the vast majority of consumers think gestation crates are inhumane.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty—on the web at humanesociety.org.

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