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The Humane Society of the United States to Address Hormel Executives About Animal Cruelty at Company’s Shareholder Meeting

At the annual shareholder meeting of Hormel Foods Corporation (NYSE: HRL) on Monday, a representative of The Humane Society of the United States will ask the company to decrease animal cruelty in its supply chain by ending its use of gestation crates, cages barely larger than the animals' own bodies that the company uses to confine breeding pigs.

When: Jan. 31, 2011 at 8:00 PM
Where: Richard L. Knowlton Auditorium, Austin High School, 300 NW 4th St., Austin, Minn.

The HSUS purchased stock in Hormel as part of its efforts to encourage the $6 billion Austin, Minnesota-based pork giant to move away from gestation crates, as other pork producers are doing. Breeding pigs used by Hormel 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.

“Breeding pigs used by Hormel are crammed into crates so small, they’re virtually immobilized for their entire lives,” stated Matthew Prescott, outreach director for The HSUS’ factory farming campaign. “We hope Hormel will follow the lead of other major pork producers that have started moving away from gestation crates.”

Seven U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to outlaw gestation crates, and major companies like Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, Quiznos and Safeway have taken steps to increase purchases of gestation crate-free pork products. Other companies—like Whole Foods, Wolfgang Puck and Chipotle—don’t use any pork produced using gestation crates. Hormel’s own animal welfare advisor, 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.”


  • About 70 percent of breeding sows in the United States are confined in gestation crates. Extensive scientific research confirms this causes immense suffering. Studies have shown that not confining animals in cages or crates may also improve food safety.
  • An American Farm Bureau-funded poll found that the vast majority of consumers think gestation crates are inhumane.
  • Factory farming continues to be a major social issue: Oprah Winfrey dedicated an entire show to the issue, The New York Times has written on the topic, and The American Conservative ran a cover article about the abuse inherent in confining animals so tightly they can barely move called “Torture on the Farm.”


 Follow The HSUS on Twitter.

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.