The issues surrounding sow housing will be discussed at next week’s Pork Industry Forum in Orlando.
The National Pork Board will update producers on new animal welfare education initiatives. Pork Board CEO Chris Novak says the industry is working to engage with food companies and consumers, to help them understand the pros and cons of various pork production systems.
“There are tradeoffs between different types of production practices—different systems that we use today,” Novak says, “and we recognize that we need to find a better way to explain that—to share that story—with food companies that are making decisions that are affecting farmers.”
Novak says many of the food companies that have called for the elimination of gestation stalls did so before they had all of the facts.
“As we’ve talked to many of those companies, we’ve asked if they have looked at the implications for animals—if they understood the implications for animals. And if they understood what the cost implications were or the environmental sustainability implications of their decisions,” Novak says, “and many of those companies have indicated that they have not looked at these things.”
But Novak says overcoming the “emotional appeal” used by animal rights activists is a major challenge. He says the activists have been successful at connecting pets with farm animals.
“We need consumers to understand that there is a difference between the two—and we can’t produce animals that end up on the dinner table and treat them in the same way that someone might treat their pets.”
The Pork Industry Forum runs March 7th, 8th and 9th in Orlando.