McDonald’s Corporation announced Monday that the fast food chain will no longer work with pork suppliers that use sow gestation stalls. McDonalds is calling on its suppliers to phase out the stalls or crates by May.
Iowa Pork Producers Association President Bill Tentinger of LeMars says the industry is already moving in that direction, but he believes it will come at a cost. “We’re going to see some producers who are going to say, ‘you know, I’ve had enough and I’m not going down that road,'” Tentinger said.
Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of the United States Humane Society, called the McDonald’s announcement “important and promising.” In a statement, he added “it’s just wrong to immobilize animals for their whole lives in crates barely larger than their bodies.”
But, Tentinger said smaller pork producers may not be willing to make the investment in another type of gestation or farrowing housing. “We’re going to see larger units. That’s where the farrowing business is going to go because the small producer…if he needs to make the switch, he’s probably not going to do it,” Tentinger said.
Some of McDonald’s suppliers, such as Smithfield Foods and Cargill, have said they have already made some changes to their operations. “The one thing that I would say is that it is a positive thing that the industry is willing to address this on our own,” Tentinger said. “We do not need federal government intervention individuals who tell us how to house our animals.”
Iowa is the number one pork producing state in the U.S. with approximately 30 million hogs raised in the state each year. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said it remains to be seen how the McDonald’s announcement will affect the pork industry. “Some of those folks who have (sow gestation stalls) already will either find customers who are happy they’re grown that way or others will decide to update their equipment and raise their pigs in different ways,” Northey said.
The McDonald’s announcement follows a commercial from restaurant chain Chipotle that’s created a buzz. The two-and-a-half minute long commercial aired during the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. The stop-motion animation spot focuses on a farmer’s concerns with industrial food production methods. You can check out the commercial here: YouTube.
(Dennis Morrice, KLEM, contributed to this story)