Responding to a recent Tyson Foods, Inc. announcement to adjust animal welfare monitoring practices, the Humane Society of the United States said new measures won't be enough.
The Tyson FarmCheck program, which was announced Oct. 12, is now on a trial basis in select hog farms that supply Tyson's pork. Its main function is to monitor and improve animal welfare at the company's more than 12,000 independent meat suppliers.
A statement from HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle said the welfare plan would "mean more" if the company would commit to sourcing meat from farms that do not use gestation stalls.
“Audits are valuable if farm inspectors ask the right set of questions. We’ve not suggested that Tyson contractors are denying food to animals or intentionally abusing them, but that they are denying them enough space to even turn around," Pacelle said.
HSUS's campaign to end the use of gestation stalls has long targeted Tyson Foods. The group has called on Tyson to follow competitors Smithfield, Cargill and Hormel in setting a timeline for crate phase-out.
On Oct. 2, Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO, announced his candidacy for a board seat on the Tyson Board of Directors to "encourage management there to take certain critical steps to improve the treatment of animals in its supply chain, and not fall behind its major competitors," an HSUS press release said.
"It's certainly unusual for a lifelong animal advocate to run for the board of the second-biggest meat company in the world," Pacelle said in the release. "Nonetheless, it is imperative that a voice on Tyson's board speak for the company's many customers, partners, and investors who are demanding the end of gestation crates and more humane treatment of animals."
Last May, HSUS filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission arguing that Tyson's welfare programs were "hollow." HSUS cited Tyson's responses to an undercover video that allegedly captured animal cruelty at a Wyoming hog farm, which they say were "deceptive" and violated securities laws.
Not The Only Opposition
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlement Action Legal Fund, United Stock Growers of America) also opposes the new program, but for a different reason: they say it could violate anti-trust laws by management forcing decisions on farmers.
President and CEO Bill Bullard called on the USDA and the Department of Justice to investigate the program's legality. He says the information collected from farms will be used as fodder for marketing campaigns, and the program represents Tyson's exertion of "monopolistic power."