WASHINGTON – Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), announced he is running for a slot on the Tyson Foods, Inc. board of directors with help from New York billionaire Carl Icahn.
Pacelle noted that more than 30 major retailers and food companies have committed to requiring pork producers to phase out gestation stalls. That list does not include Tyson Foods, but Pacelle said that, as a board member, he would urge the company to transition away from using gestation stalls.
"Admittedly, getting on the board is a very uphill battle. I don’t know this world of proxy fights and shareholder persuasion all that well, but it is my hope that with Carl Icahn’s help, I can convince the shareholders that they need someone like me on the Tyson board — someone who will make animal welfare a priority, while still paying attention to the bottom line," Pacelle wrote in a blog post on the HSUS website.
"We’re not surprised Wayne Pacelle wants to sit on our board," Tyson responded in a statement on the company's website. "We’re handling the nomination according to the law and our company’s by-laws. We’re committed to humane animal treatment and expect the same from the independent family farmers who supply us with chickens, hogs and cattle."
Icahn, whose net worth Forbes estimated at $14.8 billion, said it would be extremely difficult to get Pacelle elected through a proxy fight because of the company's A/B (low vote/high vote) stock. But, he said the HSUS position on gestation stalls "is the right one" and would help Tyson improve its competitiveness.
Icahn said in a statement: “A fresh voice on the Tyson board would be good for the company, and I am hopeful that enough shareholders will be receptive to the campaign to put Wayne Pacelle on the board so that either he will be elected, or that Tyson will reach the right conclusion and put him on the board without the cost and inconvenience of a proxy fight.”