AUSTIN, Minn. – Hormel Foods has committed to phasing out gestation-crate confinement of pigs at all company-owned facilities by 2017, according to The Humane Society of the United States. Hormel’s commitment was reportedly made in response to an HSUS spokesperson pressing the issue at Hormel’s shareholder meeting this week.

However, in its 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, Hormel stated:

The breeding sows at our company-owned farms in Arizona will be transitioning to group sow housing by the end of summer 2012. We will also be making the transition at our farms in Colorado before 2018. With nearly 75 percent of our company-owned sows moving to group sow housing at our farms in Arizona and Colorado, for the purposes of consistent animal handling practices, employee training, personnel transfer and reporting processes, we will also begin the transition to group sow housing at our company-owned farms in Wyoming before 2018. By including our Wyoming farms with our operations in Arizona and Colorado, all Hormel Foods-owned farms will be 100 percent group sow housing before 2018. 

“This is great news from Hormel,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and chief executive officer. “This decision brings us closer to the day when the cruel confinement of pigs in gestation crates will be a bygone era for the entire pork industry. We thank Hormel for making this decision and urge the company to also apply it to any contract pig breeders it may use. We also urge Hormel’s competitors, such as Tyson, Triumph, Prestage and Seaboard, to stop lagging behind and get on the gestation-crate free pathway.”

Hormel houses 54,000 breeding pigs at three facilities in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. Arizona and Colorado have both passed laws to ban gestation crates by the end of the 2012 and 2017, respectively. Six weeks ago, Smithfield Foods recommitted to phasing out gestation crates by 2017.

Hormel is directing those seeking for more information on this news to Hormel Foods’ Corporate Responsibility report.