WASHINGTON – The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging violations of federal securities law by Seaboard Corp. HSUS is alleging that Seaboard responded to the organization's shareholder resolution with "false claims". The group is also alleging Seaboard failed to give advance notice of its response to the resolution.
The HSUS is a Seaboard shareholder. The organization filed a shareholder proposal in September 2011 to stop the company using gestation crates for sows.
"Despite the SEC regulations’ requirement that Seaboard give advance notice to The HSUS about its response to the shareholder proposal, Seaboard published an opposition to it in its Proxy Statement without advance notice," HSUS said in a news release. "That response included false claims of ‘cruelty-free’ animal-care practices. Both the lack of advance notice and the deceptive opposition statement are violations of federal securities laws and rules.
"Because of the lack of notice of this deceptive opposition statement, Seaboard deprived The HSUS of the opportunity to ensure that only truthful information related to its proposal is presented to shareholders," it added.
Seaboard Foods has disputed such allegations in the past. The company has said it follows industry protocols and practices for animal welfare and that the housing it uses for gestating sows is based on sound science.
Seaboard said the company uses both stalls and group pens to house gestating sows, and that no one method for housing them has been determined superior, given proper management practices.
The complaint is the third legal challenge HSUS has a launched against Seaboard over alleged violations of securities laws.