Are the Voluntary Efforts of Some Companies to Phase Out Factory Farming Abuses Enough?

Last fall the Safeway grocery chain announced it will give preferences to suppliers that are moving away from gestation crates for pigs, an additional 5% of its purchases will come from these suppliers in the first year with 10% in the second year and 15% in year 3.

Preferences were also announced for poultry suppliers that use controlled atmosphere slaughter, a more humane method than slitting throats or electrocution.  Safeway will increase to 6% over 2 years eggs from suppliers that do not house birds in battery cages.

This announcement by Safeway followed on the heels of Burger King’s decision last year for similar buying preferences. Click here and here for more on that. Wolfgang Puck has also announced similar plans to phase out purchases of pork from pigs kept in gestation crates. 

And Smithfield Pork, the largest U.S. pork producer, also joined in and said it would phase out use of gestation crates. Other pork producers have since pledged to phase out use of gestation crates. 

Wolfgang Puck, Denny’s and Hardee’s and other restaurant chains as well as food service providers like Bon Appetit and Gluckenheimer, corporations like Yahoo and Nordstrom’s, other retailers like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market, hotels, universities and cities have announced plans to phase out the use of eggs from hens kept in battery cages. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings, Inc has said it has plans to use only cage free eggs. Colleges and universities across the country have started or are considering using cage free eggs.

Now another major grocery chain in the southeast U.S., Harris Teeter, has announced it will increase purchases of pork from suppliers phasing out gestation crates for pregnant pigs. The company says it will also increase to 9% its purchases of eggs from chickens not raised in battery cages.

Animal Law Coalition commends these businesses, schools and public agencies, but is this enough to stop the suffering?

Voters and legislators in some states have not been content to wait for incremental changes in torturous factory farming practices.  

Voters in Florida and Arizona have banned use of gestation crates. Last year Oregon passed a law banning use of battery cages. California voters are working to put an initiative on the ballot for the November elections that would ban use of gestation crates, tethering of veal calves in tiny enclosures, and use of battery cages for hens. Click here for more on the California effort and the cruelty of these factory farming practices.