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August 17, 2011

Shareholder Resolution Urges Hormel Foods to Disclose Progress

The HSUS calls for disclosure of progress in reducing animal abuse in Hormel supply chain.

The Humane Society of the United States submitted a shareholder resolution Wednesday asking Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods to disclose to shareholders how many breeding pigs are confined in gestation crates for its products, and any progress the company has made moving toward more humane housing methods.

Gestation crates are small metal cages used to virtually immobilize breeding sows for most of their lives. The animals are confined in these crates during their four-month pregnancy, placed into another crate to give birth, then put back into a gestation crate – pregnancy after pregnancy – until they are slaughtered.

"Consumers don’t support lifelong confinement of farm animals in tiny crates," stated Josh Balk, director of corporate policy for The HSUS' farm animal protection division. "Hormel appears to be behind the times on this issue, and shareholders deserve to understand what the company is—or isn’t – doing to correct its support for this unnecessary and extreme cruelty."

Eight U.S. states – including Arizona and Colorado, two states that have Hormel operations – and the European Union have passed laws to phase out gestation crates.

Major companies like Wendy’s, Burger King, Chipotle, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Sonic, Quiznos, Wolfgang Puck, Safeway, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and Winn-Dixie have begun transitioning away from pork produced using gestation crates. Hormel competitors Cargill, Maple Leaf Foods and Smithfield have also begun moving away from gestation crates.

Hormel Foods’ own animal welfare advisor, Dr. Temple Grandin, unequivocally states that “gestation stalls have got to go.”

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.
  • A study conducted by Iowa State University concluded that it’s more economical to raise breeding pigs in groups, rather than individual crates.
  • An American Farm Bureau-funded poll found that the vast majority of consumers think gestation crates are inhumane.
  • Factory farming is a major social issue: A study by food industry consultancy, Technomic, ranked animal welfare as the third-most important social issue to restaurant patrons; an American Farm Bureau-funded report found that 89 percent of Americans believe that food companies that require their suppliers to treat farm animals better are doing the right thing.  

 

Media Contact — Anna West: 301-258-1518, awest@humanesociety.org

 

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