Smithfield Reneges on Gestation Crate Ban

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Two years after Smithfield Foods (the world's largest pig flesh producer) announced that it would phase out cruel gestation crates by 2017, the company has decided to break its promise.  Smithfield states:

"Due to recent significant operating losses incurred by our Hog Production segment, we have delayed capital expenditures for the program such that we no longer expect to complete the phase-out within ten years of the original announcement."

Although Smithfield cites financial woes as the reason for putting off the promised minimal improvements for pigs, it should be pointed out that just three years' compensation for the company's highly paid directors would more than cover the cost of a complete crate phase-out over the next eight years.

The majority of Smithfield's pregnant sows are currently confined to gestation crates, which are made of concrete and steel and are so small that the animals cannot turn around or even lie down comfortably in them. Many of these intelligent and social animals will literally go insane from the intensive confinement and lack of physical or mental stimulation. Open sores, cuts, infections, and neurotic behavior plague many sows confined in these inherently cruel stalls. In fact, the crates are so cruel they have been banned in six states, including California, Maine, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and Florida.

Unfortunately, such backpedaling on Smithfield's part is yet another reminder that the meat industry places profits over ethics, leaving the animals to pay the ultimate price - a life filled with pain and misery.