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June 04, 2021

Many Canadian retailers oppose lifelong confinement of pigs

I think it was CTV's W5 investigation into pig farms called "Food for Thought" that did it for me.

I haven't eaten meat since.

Now, the Retail Council of Canada and some of Canada's largest retailers are jumping on board to sourcing fresh pork products from alternatives to gestation crates over the next nine years.

Canadian companies Wal-Mart, Costco, Safeway, Loblaw, Metro, Federated Co-operatives, Sobey's and Co-op Atlantic are all on board.

And two of the three largest Canadian pork producers -- Olymel and Maple Leaf Foods -- have already vowed to shift away from gestation crates. The world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, has also announced a similar policy within the next four years.

Gestation crates are metal enclosures that are used in intensive pig farming. Female pigs, during pregnancy, are kept in the enclosures. The crates are roughly the same size of their bodies preventing sows from even turning around.

According to statistics, 21.1 million hogs were slaughtered in Canadian packing plants in 2012 and over one million sows are confined to gestation crates.

The Canadian pork industry pulls in more than $3 billion in revenue annually.

Sayara Thurston, campaigner with Humane Society International/Canada, says, "HSI/Canada welcomes the National Farm Animal Care Council's recognition that the lifelong confinement of pigs in tiny crates must end in Canada's pork industry.

"While there is still significant room for improvement in the Code of Practice, we look forward to engaging with the public and with NFACC throughout the consultation period to address the most concerning issues."

She says these issues include the continued allowance for some confinement of mother pigs during their pregnancies and a long phase-out period of gestation crates that does not reflect recent decisions by some of Canada's largest pork buyers.

Gestation crates, which are standard in large scale pork production, have often been criticized by veterinarians, family farmers, animal welfare advocates, legislators, scientists, consumers and food retailers.

And according to a recent national poll, 84 per cent of Canadians support a complete phase-out of the use of gestation crates.

The new Code of Practice will take effect next year which would prohibit construction of any new gestation crate operations throughout Canada. It also states that producers will have to eliminate the lifelong confinement of pigs in gestation crates and begin housing them in groups by 2024.

Many family farmers have been raising pigs without the use of gestation crates for generations.

Food for thought.

By Donna Donaldson, MSN Money

What are your thoughts on the move away from the use of gestation crates? 




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...