Tyson investor urges action on gestation crates

by Erica Shaffer
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BOSTON – An investor in Tyson Foods Inc. recently submitted a resolution asking the board of directors to disclose potential financial risks and “impacts” of using gestation crates in pork production. Boston-based Green Century Capital Management is wholly owned by non-profit organizations focused on environmental advocacy.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Green Century argued that confining pigs in gestation crates is out of step with consumer sentiment, and the shift away from gestation stalls continues to grow. However, Tyson Foods hasn’t changed its policy on gestation crates — and the company’s investors are at risk.

“Already, Tyson has lost significant customers over its position on this issue — something the company has failed to disclose,” Green Century said. “And the chorus of expert voices from within the meat industry, from food retailers, scientists, analysts and more demonstrate that continuing to defend and use crates — as Tyson does — poses significant risks.” 

“We believe our Board of Directors’ statement in opposition to the original proposal, published on page 20 of the annual proxy statement, speaks for itself,” Tyson told MEAT+POULTRY. “Our company’s positions on animal well-being and sow housing are available on our website.”

The board said in part:

“With respect to the subject matter of the proposal, animal experts acknowledge that both individual and group sow housing systems have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to animal well-being. We believe the most important aspect of animal health is the care they receive from farmers, and we believe the family farmers who supply us share our commitment to proper animal treatment and desire for continued improvement.”

Tyson has weathered attacks on its transparency in the past. In 2012, The Humane Society of the United States filed a complaint with the SEC alleging that Tyson violated securities law by making deceptive public statements following the release of an undercover video taken at a Wisconsin hog facility.

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