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December 14, 2012

D.C. and Des Moines Buses Wrapped with Ads Exposing Pork Industry Confinement

The Humane Society of the United States’ Ads Pose Uncomfortable Question: “How would you like to spend the rest of your life in a space as small as a bus seat?”

Pedestrians and motorists in the nation’s capital and the capital of the largest pork producing state are now seeing municipal buses almost fully wrapped with actual images of the inhumane confinement conditions that breeding pigs endure inside factory farms – a practice that is typically hidden from public view by the pork industry. The ads have been placed by The Humane Society of the United States to raise awareness about the intransigence of companies and producers that continue to defend the use of gestation crates, even while so many other many pork producers and retailers have committed to phasing them out.

The ads in Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa, pose the question, “How would you like to spend the rest of your life in a space as small as a bus seat?” and display large images of pigs in gestation crates—which are used by most of the pork industry to virtually immobilize breeding pigs for most of their lives.

The bus ads direct viewers to the web site humanesociety.org/pigs, which features an online petition urging the pork industry to end the extreme confinement system which has come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers and others.

“These new ads shine a bright spotlight on a world of inhumane treatment that Big Pork would prefer remained hidden,” says Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at The HSUS. “The pork industry’s leadership should stop defending what most Americans know is indefensible and instead help its industry transition away from gestation crate confinement systems.”

The pork industry trade groups that defend gestation crates are increasingly at odds with leading companies in the food industry. Recent pledges to move away from gestation crates made by McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Safeway, Oscar Mayer, ConAgra and other leading food companies signal a sharp reversal in a misguided, three-decade-old campaign to replace animal husbandry with animal confinement. Gestation crates are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and designed to prevent them from even turning around. The animals are subsequently transferred into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization.

“It is wrong to immobilize animals for their entire lives in crates barely larger than their bodies,” adds Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS.  “All animals deserve humane treatment, including those raised for food.”

Facts:

  • Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.
  • Leading pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free. 

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

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