The issue of sow gestation stalls in pork production has been one of most hotly-debated issues in agriculture in recent years. It reached a crescendo in 2012 with a virtual avalanche of pronouncements from food companies—including major players like McDonalds and Safeway—that they planned to eliminate gestation stalls from their pork supply chains.
But in the first of his series of updates on the sow housing debate, Brownfield’s Ken Anderson says some of those companies may now be feeling “buyers’ remorse”.
Have you ever made a rash decision, without doing the proper research, and then find yourself saying “What have I done!”
According to Dallas Hockman, director of industry relations with the National Pork Producers Council, that’s where some of the more than 50 food companies who have made gestation-stall free announcements find themselves today.
“Now that we’ve gone through a number of these announcements and we’ve had the opportunity to have a dialogue and visit with our customers who have made those (announcements), they’ve come to the realization that either, a) they were misled, or b) they made the announcement without a thorough evaluation of where the industry is at,” Hockman says.
“The stark reality is (stall-free) product is just not available.”
A 2012 survey of larger pork companies found that only 17 percent of sows spent a portion of gestation in open pens. Producers surveyed indicated that number will climb to 24 percent in the next couple of years.
In tomorrow’s report—producers take a cautious approach.