The National Pork Producers Council has issued the following statement on McDonald’s decision Monday to require its suppliers to move to group sow housing:

“Monday’s decision by the McDonald’s Corp. to study its suppliers’ use of individual sow housing is an opportunity for the pork industry to respond to its customers. The National Pork Producers Council stands ready to offer its assistance to McDonald’s as it assesses sow housing.

“Farmers constantly are evolving and improving their operations to adapt to market conditions. A generation ago, pork demand was sagging because the product didn’t meet consumer demands. Farmers changed their practices. Today’s pork is leaner and more nutritious than ever, and today’s farmer is committed to responsible production.

“Farmers and animal care experts know that various types of housing systems can provide for the well-being of pigs. After an extensive review of scientific literature, the American Veterinary Medical Association determined that both individual sow housing and group housing can provide for the well-being of sows.

“Perhaps most importantly, today’s announcement reflects the best process for meeting evolving consumer demands – through the market, not through government mandates. Pork industry customers have expressed a desire to see changes in how pigs are raised. Farmers are responding and modifying their practices accordingly. That process is effective, efficient and doesn’t require an act of Congress.

“The pork industry supports a free market; it opposes legislative mandates on farmers pushed by special interest groups. Farmers are some of the most innovative and resourceful people in our country. They will continue to meet the ever-changing needs of customers and provide consumers with safe, nutritious and affordable food produced responsibly.”