Post by Eliza Barclay, The Salt at NPR Food (1/7/14)
Smithfield, the world's largest hog and pork buyer, announced Tuesday that it's asking the independent farmers with whom it has contracts to get rid of stalls for pregnant sows to improve the animals' living conditions.
To nudge these farmers to make the changes to their facilities by 2022, Smithfield is offering to extend their contracts once they've converted their gestational stalls into group houses, which are generally considered more humane.
The move is significant because 40 percent of Smithfield sows are raised on farms owned by independent farmers. The company has contracts with 2,100 farms across 12 states.
Smithfield, best known for its ham products, says it has already moved 54 percent of pregnant sows on its company-owned farms in the U.S. out of the the narrow stalls, known as gestation crates, and into group housing, per a commitment it made in 2007 to phase out the crates.