Kroger, Cracker Barrel, McDonald's, Burger King, Sonic…the list of companies that will not accept pork from farms using gestation crates continues to grow.
At some point, it seems the industry would do well to stop fighting the rising tide and learn to surf the group sow housing wave. Right? Wrong, says University of Illinois' animal sciences professor Janeen Salak-Johnson.
"If you take that stance, you are letting activists drive the train," Johnson explains. "That is the wrong stance to take."
She says companies that refuse to accept pork from a farm that uses gestation crates are giving the consumer way too much credit. At an Illinois Farm Families event this past spring, Johnson was on hand to answer questions about pork production as a group of Chicago moms toured a modern hog farm. She asked the group their feelings on gestation stalls.
"The gestation crate wasn't even on their radar screen until we brought it up," she remembers.
Cost of production
Johnson says many European countries are realizing the inefficiencies of group sow housing firsthand. By Jan. 1, 2013, the gestation stall will be completely banned in the EU; many producers will leave the pork business. Johnson reports Germany's pork industry could move to wean to finish only. All weaner pigs will be imported.