Packer Animal Welfare Programs

At the Iowa and Minnesota Pork Congress Hormel met with producers who supply live hogs to their slaughter plants. At the meetings they rolled out their new animal care guidelines that will become mandatory on September 1. For a majority of the producers the guidelines reinforce practices they have already implemented on-farm as a result of PQA+ and TQA enrollment. The important item of this program is that the implementation will be audited by an independent 3rd party to verify application of the guidelines. This audit will be in addition to the auditing process that National Pork Board has in place for their PQA+ SWAP assessments.

Hormel has been the subject of intense animal welfare (some would say animal rights) pressure with several of its suppliers being the subject of clandestine videos. Not all of the video footage showed animal cruelty and instead showed normal production practices that the industry deems in the best interest of the pig such as gestation crates. However, the vocal minority led by PETA, Mercy for Animals, HSUS, etc. has been very aggressive in their efforts to get slaughter plants to put in place minimum ‘standards’ of animal care.

Since the introduction of this program at the Minnesota Pork Congress I’ve heard producer comments both for and against Hormel’s effort to become more pro-active in animal welfare. Some have suggested Hormel is doing the right thing by addressing this issue head-on. Some have said they are pleased to see Hormel take leadership on this issue but would have preferred a more voluntary approach. Others have suggested Hormel is caving in to the welfare concerns – concerns often expressed by people and groups who have a long term agenda of complete cessation of meat consumption by humans.

I suspect the other major packers are watching with intense interest this effort by Hormel and suspect variations in packer welfare guidelines and auditing of application these guidelines will be forthcoming by several of them. Now is the time to start a discussion with your packer about this issue.

One thought on “Packer Animal Welfare Programs

  1. Mr. Brumm,
    Considering every current production practice meets existing objective animal welfare requirements regarding all animal cruelty laws and much higher self-imposed standards, as well as practical considerations that effect long-term profitability, why must any producer voluntarily or otherwise submit to these “standards”? Especially when the producer will bear 100% of the cost of meeting them, with no reward or premium, other than being “allowed” to sell their product to companies that have surrendered to these animal rights blackmailers… at no cost to themselves? If all producers simply, as a group, refused to be bullied, what would Hormel or any other packer and processor do? Buy all their pigs from Europe? I think producers, and their group representatives underestimate the leverage they possess in this battle (and it is a battle). As packers have taken the low road and offered to pay ransom, from the pockets of producers, it is time to come together and say no, we will not be pushed back and driven down by the vast army of lawyers and lobbyists sent out by HSUS and their fellows. You want HSUS approved pigs Hormel? I’m sure Europe will be glad to supply them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *