Visit to World Pork Expo provides glimpse at the lives of factory farmed pigs
As key members of the pork industry gather for this yearly event, we continue our focus on moving them to Raise Pigs Right.
Approximately 1.4 billion pigs are slaughtered for meat per year, and most of them don't have lives worth living.
For many pigs subjected to life on a factory farm, they will likely never feel the earth beneath their feet, never see natural daylight, and never experience happiness among their fellow pigs.
As part of World Animal Protection’s Raise Pigs Right campaign, we’re targeting some of the largest pork producing markets across the world with a focus on China, Thailand, Brazil, and the US.
Here in America, Iowa is the pig capital of the world, so it is logical that it’s also the location of the annual World Pork Expo. According to WorldPork.org, “If you’re part of the pork industry, you should be part of World Pork Expo.”
For a closer look at the industry, we visited this year’s Expo earlier this month, hosted by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and attended by thousands of U.S. and global pork producers, farmers, industry professionals and experts gathered to discuss all things pigs.
We had our ears to the ground to learn more about current policies, beliefs and standards within the industry. We also had the opportunity to speak with journalists and industry leaders about World Animal Protection’s campaign to raise pigs right.
World Animal Protection is asking producers to stop using equipment which confines mother pigs so tightly in cages that they can’t turn around. This confinement in a cage no bigger than the average refrigerator leads to weakened muscles and a lifetime of mental suffering.
At the Expo, we saw exhibitions from companies who sell farm equipment used to raise pigs in the US, including varying types of cages and pens to house pigs. We had a chance to encounter some show pigs in pens with wood shavings on the floor, unlike most factory pigs forced to lay on hard concrete-slatted floors. We’re also asking that pigs raised for meat be removed from barren pens with uncomfortable flooring. Pigs raised in these conditions suffer from skin lesions, disease, and psychological distress.
We attended a variety of presentations on pig-related topics, including the influence of consumers on meat-buying trends. The pork industry is aware of the impact that consumers can have on the lives of animals , and so are we.
We know that consumers want to have a say in how supermarkets choose their products -- 89% of US shoppers think that supermarkets have a responsibility to source pork from pigs raised with higher welfare standards. We’re asking people to use their voices to urge supermarkets to take responsibility and ensure that their suppliers end cruel confinement and barren environments for pigs.
If you haven’t yet signed our petition urging Kroger, a food industry leader, to make a renewed public commitment to ending gestation crates and barren environments, with a clear timeline for progress, show your support by signing here.
We'd like to see pigs lead good lives with an opportunity to express natural behavior and socialize, free from the confines of cages and free from painful mutilations, so we're calling on the industry to make a change.
Many of the people who gather each year for the World Pork Expo can help make progress a reality for the millions of pigs raised in the US.
While we witnessed some encouraging steps at World Pork Expo, such as vendors offering equipment providing enriched housing, other equipment for sale would not provide humane living conditions. We still have a long way to go to ending the suffering of factory farmed pigs.
Together, we have the power to end the mass suffering of pigs – by getting them out of cages and into social groups, enriching their environments with materials like straw, and ending cruel mutilations. These changes for pigs aren’t just possible; they’re vital.