In the past few months, I attended two key pork industry conferences in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I am always energized by the people I meet and the topics discussed; our industry has produced and nurtured some of the brightest minds committed to research and to finding solutions to the complexities handed to us by this amazing animal: the Pig. Many in our industry, including me, have experienced a champion who believed in them and paved the way for them to follow their dream. This is a testimony to the passion that our industry has for people and pigs, along with a concern for feeding the masses. In a new and cynical way, these qualities have been called into question recently by activist groups. Rick Berman, founder of the Humane Watch organization known for challenging the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says activist groups are becoming more skilled at creating “common knowledge myths” about who we are and the ethical justification for pig farming....More
Tyson Foods has dropped an Oklahoma pork supplier caught in an undercover hog video showing workers abusing animals.
Their statement released today says: “We’re extremely disappointed by the mistreatment shown in the video and will not tolerate this kind of animal mishandling.
“We are immediately terminating our contract with this farmer and will take possession of the animals remaining on the farm.”...More
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today released the following statement responding to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s comments about the “King amendment” that is part of the ongoing farm bill negotiations....More
An undercover video from an Oklahoma hog farm released today shows workers abusing animals, actions that violate the high standards of the U.S. pork industry.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) does not condone and, in fact, strongly condemns practices that are not in accord with U.S. pork industry best practices.
NPPC calls on Oklahoma authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and to bring criminal charges against workers who abused animals....More
Over the last year, I collaborated with economists Brian Buhr and Terry Hurley of the University of Minnesota, Glynn Tonsor of Kansas State University and Kelly Zering of North Carolina State University to analyze the supply-chain economics of adopting Improvest (gonadotropin-releasing factor analog, diphtheria toxoid conjugate) in the U.S. pork industry....More
Immunological castration is a solution to physical castration that is getting more attention internationally in animal welfare circles, according to an article in a recent issue of the American Society of Animal Science’s “Taking Stock” newsletter (www.asas.org)....More
In its latest attempt to coerce Congress, the lobbying arm of The Humane Society has taken out $100,000 in online ads to force the removal of a key animal rights amendment from the 2013 farm bill, according to The Hill (http://thehill.com.).
The ads, which began running Friday, target members of the newly formed House-Senate farm bill conference committee, which began work last Wednesday....More
To curb animal welfare abuses, Ontario Pork and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have entered into a collaborative agreement to investigate claims on swine farms.
This arrangement addresses both Ontario Pork’s and Ontario SPCA’s responsibilities regarding animal welfare....More
Ugh, another undercover video.” I think this was a common sentiment in the pork industry this week as the Mercy for Animals organization released undercover video claiming to show animal abuse in a pork production facility. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was only too happy to promote the release of this video. And the Mercy for Animals organization was once again very open about this being another attempt at blackmailing a major retail chain into discontinuing the purchase of pork raised on a farm that used gestation stalls. Like it or not, pork producer and current president of the National Pork Producer’s Council (NPPC) Randy Spronk became collateral damage in an ongoing war—ultimately against meat consumption....More
The Pipestone System issued a response this week to an allegation of animal mistreatment linked to an undercover video taken by a Mercy for Animals activist. The Pipestone County Prosecutor has determiend not to bring any charges against any of the employees on the farm at this time....More
A panel of farm animal care specialists created to analyze undercover video investigations at livestock farms has examined recently released video from a hog farm in Minnesota. The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) created the Animal Care Review Panel to engage recognized animal care specialists to examine video and provide expert perspectives for food retailers, the pork industry and the media....More
“A questionable undercover video from a Minnesota farm released today by Mercy for Animals (MFA), a front group for the Humane Society of the United States, is the latest attack against America’s hog farmers,” says the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
Prior to an anticipated press conference that is expected to be full of misinformation, here are some important facts from the NPPC:...More
An industry report released today details the efforts and progress America’s livestock, poultry and egg producers have made over more than a decade in ensuring animal well-being, protecting the environment, using antibiotics responsibly and producing the world’s safest food....More
One of the greatest concerns when sows are housed in groups is the incidence of aggression. This is somewhat surprising, given that sows in the wild live fairly harmoniously in groups. The reason for this discrepancy between commercial and wild pigs is that sows in the wild essentially never form new groups and their feed resources are generally scattered throughout their environment, greatly reducing competition among individuals....More
Production agriculture is facing increasing pressure from consumers about pork — not so much about whether the products are lean or not, but for the farming practices used to produce that product, says Purdue University agricultural economist Nicole Olynk Widmar.
“When consumers talk, they mention things like the welfare associated with the production of bacon or the welfare associated with making pork chops. It’s the new consumer reality,” she says....More
It’s been another week where antibiotic issues were prominently featured in the news. Perhaps you saw the news release from the Chipotle restaurant chain? The company says it is evaluating its policy when it comes to allowing the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals that may be in the company’s supply chain. Chipotle acknowledges that there are times when the company simply cannot obtain meat from animals that have not been raised completely antibiotic-free. When this situation occurs, Chipotle posts signs to let customers know that substitutions have been made. I’ve seen these signs in my local Chipotle....More
The grand opening for Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, IN, is set for Aug. 5, 2013. Public tours of the facility will leave from the Fair Oaks Farms campus (just off I-65, Exit 220). Indiana dignitaries and government officials will be welcomed to the celebration at Fair Oaks Farms....More
The August issue of National Hog Farmer is devoted to the topic of analyzing antibiotic use. As we’ve been putting the finishing touches on our stories this week, the topic of antibiotics in agriculture has been swirling in social media circles once again. Perhaps you have been following the Twitter and Facebook conversations involving a recent Panera Bread advertising campaign professing (via a chicken character shaped like a medication capsule and a graphic depicting a barn made out of pills) that farmers who use antibiotics are lazy. The take-home message is that antibiotic-free chicken is the way to go—along with a false implication that antibiotics are commonly found in meat. In a testament to the importance of agricultural advocacy, Carrie Chestnut Mess, a dairy producer who blogs as Dairy Carrie, created a blog post entitled, “Dear Panera Bread Company.” Minnesota pork industry blogger and agricultural advocate Wanda Patsche followed suit in her own blog. The posts started a social media backlash against the misleading advertising campaign and ultimately, got the attention of Panera management....More
The causes of diarrhea in piglets include all three classes of pathogens: bacteria, viruses and protozoa. However, when presented with diarrhea in pigs less than 7 days of age, the list becomes much shorter: Escherichia coli, the clostridial diseases, transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) and now porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus....More
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced that it will grant a 90-day waiver of a new hours-of-service rule for truckers hauling livestock and poultry.
Official announcement of the decision was published in the Federal Register on July 11.
As of July 1, the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break if more than eight hours have passed since they began service. For drivers hauling livestock, the hours of service would include time loading and unloading animals....More
This week the House of Representatives likely will vote on including the “Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013,” the so-called Egg Bill, in the 2013 Farm Bill. The bill seeks to put into federal law an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP) to mandate federal egg production standards....More
Even though the cool weather has lingered on, it’s nearly the official start of summer. The cool, low humidity days have been good for people and pigs.
Soon, however, there will be stretches of hot and humid weather to contend with. To help livestock and poultry deal with summer conditions, a new app on heat stress has been developed, according to the Iowa Pork Industry Center....More
At World Pork Expo last week, the Pork Checkoff announced new and improved tools to assist pork producers in evaluating the financial impact of sow housing choices, improving workplace safety, reducing their environmental footprint and identifying problems within breeding stock.
Sow Housing Calculator
A new Sow Housing Calculator will assist producers in making important decisions about remodeling or other facility or management choices on the farm....More
As part of Tyson Foods’ commitment to proper treatment of farm animals, the company Thursday announced the formation of an independent Farm Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel. Members will serve as advisers to the Tyson FarmCheck program, a comprehensive initiative designed to ensure responsible care and overall well-being of farm animals....More