The USDA Wants to Speed Up Pig Slaughter… Here’s Your Last Chance to Speak Out

Slaughterhouses in the U.S. can already kill pigs at the breakneck speed of 1,106 pigs per hour, but the federal government wants to let slaughterhouses kill pigs even more quickly. The USDA’s proposed rule, the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS), would eliminate line speed maximums at the biggest pig slaughterhouses across the nation. The USDA also wants to shift crucial inspection duties for animal welfare and food safety from federal inspectors to the slaughterhouses themselves.

Today MFA, along with The Humane Society of the United States, submitted 50 pages of comments—supported by over 6,000 pages of evidence—breaking down why the USDA’s proposal to speed up pig slaughter goes against established law and would be bad for animals and workers.

The deadline to comment is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time today. If you haven’t yet, please take action now to make sure your voice is heard.

At current slaughter line speeds, workers are already under immense pressure from managers and slaughterhouse owners to drive pigs off the trucks and into the kill line as quickly as possible. As a result, many slaughterhouse workers become frustrated and repeatedly beat or shock pigs with electric prods to get them to move. If regulatory line speed maximums were removed, workers would likely be under even more pressure to use even more force. Faster line speeds could also increase the risk of botched slaughter—pigs could be shackled upside down and have their throats slit while conscious and able to feel pain.

But the USDA’s proposal wouldn’t only be a nightmare for pigs—NSIS would endanger slaughterhouse workers as well. Slaughterhouse employees already deal with large, powerful, and frightened animals, and workers are forced to stand in frigid rooms, repeatedly making the same cut on pieces of meat for hours on end. Faster slaughter line speeds would increase the likelihood of occupational injuries for slaughterhouse workers, who already incur on-the-job injuries at an alarming rate. According to an investigation by Harvest Public Media, the current pace of pig slaughter lines can be linked to repetitive stress injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, among other issues.

NSIS would also endanger food safety and public health. If NSIS passes, the USDA will reduce the number of federal inspectors in pig slaughterhouses, leaving key food safety inspection duties to the slaughterhouses, which have shown time and again that they put profits over animal welfare, workers’ rights, and food safety.

Almost 120 million pigs are slaughtered in the U.S. each year, and they’re counting on us to be their voice. Click here to submit a comment today telling the USDA that you won’t stand for this dangerous and cruel proposal.

And remember, the best way to prevent cruelty to pigs is by leaving them off your plate. Learn more about preventing cruelty to farmed animals by switching to a compassionate plant-based diet.