DES MOINES, Iowa – In recent months, several retailers have announced they have adopted or amended policies they will only use pork suppliers who are phasing out gestation crates in their hog-raising practices. The Kroger Co. was the most recent retailer (Read “Kroger updates gestation crate policy” in the June 5 edition of The National Pork Producers Council has responded it is disappointed these retailers’ actions are being fueled by activist pressure.

“It is very disconcerting that retailers, in making decisions about sourcing pork products, continue to succumb to the pressure of activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, without any consideration of the impact on American farm families, who produce the safe and affordable pork that they sell to consumers,” the statement said. “These unilateral and impulsive announcements are made without any recognition that nearly all of the pork products produced in the US today come from facilities built for the validated practice of gestation stalls.”

NPPC added that nowhere in these recent announcements is there any discussion on the willingness of these companies to pay for these requests.

“These are very complex issues that require interaction of the complete supply chain,” the statement continues. “Simply making an announcement without understanding the supply chain’s ability to meet the requests or the costs associated with them are simply irresponsible. Our customers need to understand that these announcements come with severe and unintended consequences.

“We believe there is a responsibility to ensure that there is transparency, and these food retailers have an obligation to assure their customers that the product they are purchasing is coming from verified sources,” NPPC said.

“These forced changes on our producers’ choice of sow housing may very well put hog farmers out of business and will certainly increase the price of pork for consumers.

“We are American farm families and take great pride in our track record of producing a safe, affordable and healthful food for the American consumer. We think we deserve to be part of these decisions that are being asked of us,” the statement concluded.