‘Quit Stalling’: Coalition Tells Hog Producers

Saskatoon, February 1

A national coalition of advocates for socially responsible livestock production is calling on Canada’s pork producers to stop caging pregnant pigs on concrete in small metal cages known as gestation stalls or sow stalls.

Yesterday, less than one week after North America’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, announced a phase-out of all the gestation stalls in all its barns, Maple Leaf Foods followed suit, making it the first major Canadian hog producer to ban the controversial housing method.

“The Beyond Factory Farming Coalition applauds Maple Leaf Foods for its socially responsible decision,” said Cathy Holtslander, a Coalition Organizer. “We are now calling on all Canadian pork producers, including Big Sky Farms, Stomp Pork Farms, Hytek Ltd., Puratone and Paragon Pork, to follow Maple Leaf and Smithfield’s example.”

Sow stalls have been standard practice in North American intensive hog barns for decades. In contrast, in the European Union, where several countries have long since banned the stalls on humane grounds, a universal phase-out has been in progress since 2000. Last year, Arizona became the second American state to ban sow stalls.

“Thanks to the persistent efforts of farm animal advocates, consumers have awakened to the horror stories behind their bacon and eggs,” said Syd Baumel, publisher of Eatkind.net, a member of the Beyond Factory Farming Coalition. “Now that Smithfield and Maple Leaf have moved to implement group housing, other Canadian producers who don’t follow their lead could find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the social values-driven economy of the 21st century.”

Humane alternatives to sow stalls, such as housing sows in small groups on loose straw-covered flooring, are being successfully used by large-scale hog producers in Denmark, Sweden and other countries. Certified organic hog farms - which also provide access to the outdoors for the sows and their young - have seen demand for their product grow at an accelerating pace among today’s ethical consumers. For years, there has been a race to the bottom in global livestock production practices. Europe has begun to reverse that trend. Now it’s Canada’s turn to join the race to the top.

CONTACT: Cathy Holtslander, Beyond Factory Farming Coalition: (306) 955-6454 Lisa Bechthold, Beyond Factory Farming Coalition: (403) 867-2999 or (403) 647-7887 Syd Baumel, Eatkind.net: (204) 452-1509