Animal Well-Being Important to America's Pork Producers
June 29, 2011 - A new video released today by an animal rights and vegan extremist group falsely charges America's pork producers of animal cruelty. It's important that those who watch the video understand that extremist organizations such as Mercy for Animals are not truly focused on improving animal welfare - they will not be satisfied until all meat, milk, and egg production is eliminated.
Ensuring proper animal well-being is the top priority of farmers and ranchers across all sectors of animal agriculture. Farm practices are implemented with animal care, environmental stewardship, and food safety in mind. Many pork producers choose to raise pregnant sows in gestation stalls in order to prevent aggressive behavior and injury to other sows. Piglets' tails are docked to prevent their dominant siblings from biting them, potentially causing extreme pain and infection. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that "Most invasive procedures performed on piglets are done to protect the welfare of the pigs rather than to improve production."
If you would like to learn more about today's pig farms, visit the Animal Agriculture Alliance's Youtube channel to watch a collection of videos, including farm tours and interviews with the people who help put food on your table.
The Alliance has long condemned the abuse and mistreatment of animals raised for food and works to promote animal care guidelines on all farms across the United States. We believe the severest penalties allowed by law should be imposed on all parties found to be involved in animal abuse, as well as those who failed to stop and report these actions immediately to the proper authorities. The farm in the video has already begun its own internal investigation.
Dr. Howard Hill, Iowa Select Farms Senior Veterinarian, explains:
"Iowa Select has a long-standing commitment to animal welfare. Training and compliance with our animal welfare policies is a condition of employment. We have already initiated an investigation into the portions of the video that show unacceptable animal handling by a few employees. [...] We have zero tolerance for violations of our animal welfare policies and those portions of the video that show violations will be dealt with quickly and appropriately."
The farm shown, like many farms across the U.S., requires all of its employees to be PQA Plus certified. The PQA Plus program was launched in 2007 to help producers measure, track and continuously improve animal well-being. Farm owners and employees who participate in the program are able to showcase their commitment to social responsibility while ensuring that U.S. pork products continue to be recognized domestically and internationally as the highest quality and safest available. As of May 2011, 52,300 individual PQA Plus certifications have been awarded, and the number of farms becoming certified grows each month.
The activist group released the video in direct retaliation to a bill that was introduced in the Iowa state legislature that would prevent activists from obtaining and distributing images of farms after obtaining illicit employment for the purposes of gaining media attention and fundraising. It is imperative that activists be held accountable for failing to immediately report any alleged mistreatment of farm animals to appropriate authorities - and for their actions to undermine farmers, ranchers and meat processors while potentially jeopardizing biosecurity measures protecting food safety.
Often these videos are held for months or weeks before being distributed directly to the media and posted on Youtube, without ever notifying the farm owners or managers about concerns. Many of them appear to have been severely edited or staged, and yet the activists involved receive no repercussions for having contributed to the alleged animal suffering. The Iowa bill was intended to protect true whistle blowers and call attention to the so-called animal rights extremists who frequently allow alleged animal mistreatment to continue until a politically-opportune time.
To be clear: the ultimate objective of these groups is not to improve animal well-being but to promote their animal rights and vegan agenda while running farmers and ranchers out of business with legislation and bad press.
The Alliance wishes to remind consumers that unfounded criticisms of the agriculture industry as a whole threaten both America's farmers and ranchers and our nation's food security. The Alliance believes it is critical that all food producers provide the best care and handling of their animals at all times. Farm operators should implement animal care policies, carefully screen potential employees, and hold all workers accountable for their actions. It is important that consumers understand how their food is produced - not by faceless corporations, but by hardworking family farms that are committed to proper animal husbandry.
For more information about farmers' and ranchers' commitment to animal care and to learn more about the real motives of animal rights extremist organizations, visit the Animal Agriculture Alliance website at www.animalagalliance.org.
About the Alliance:
The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a broad-based coalition of individual farmers and ranchers, producer organizations, veterinarians, scientists, suppliers, packer-processors, private industry and retailers. The Alliance's mission is to communicate the important role of animal agriculture to our nation's economy, productivity, vitality, security and that animal well-being is central to producing safe, high-quality, affordable food and other products essential to our daily lives.