In the Canadian pig farming industry, the majority of farms lock up pregnant pigs in barren metal cages called gestation crates. These crates are so small that the pigs cannot even turn around, express natural behaviours, or socialize with other pigs around them.
Gestation crates are considered so cruel that they’re illegal or severely restricted in at least nine US states, the UK, and the EU. Unfortunately, like other confinement devices common in the farming industry, gestation crates are still legally used in Canada.
Neither the federal government nor the provinces regulate animal welfare practices on farms, leaving the industry to make up its own rules through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). NFACC is an industry-dominated organization that creates non-binding, voluntary codes of practice that aren’t laws.
Many people celebrated in 2014 after intense public pressure forced the industry to commit to phasing out the continuous use of gestation crates by 2024 in the NFACC Pig Code. Although the 10-year timeline was far too long, it was still a step in the right direction.
NFACC acknowledged in the 2014 Pig Code that caging pregnant pigs has a serious detrimental effect on the mental health of these intensely social animals, and often results in pigs performing repetitive, stereotypic behaviours indicative of psychological distress, suffering, and frustration. Who wouldn’t be frustrated by spending most of their life in a space the size of a coffin?
But now, in a five-year review of the Pig Code led by the Canadian Pork Council, the industry is trying to push this timeline back to 2029, condemning mother pigs to another five years of misery in cages barely bigger than their own bodies. Unsurprisingly, the industry now says that it simply cannot afford to do the transition by 2024 as promised, proving once again that for the meat industry, animal welfare always comes second to profits.
This betrayal proves that the industry simply can’t be trusted to set its own rules. NFACC’s voluntary, industry-created standards are simply no substitute for binding laws. Animal Justice is calling on the federal government to step in and impose legally-binding standards for animal welfare on farms across the country, with public inspections of on-farm conditions. Demand federal action today!
You can also tell NFACC what you think of its betrayal of mother pigs. Fill out this public survey by November 19 to have your say.
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