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Will Walmart Make Its Suppliers Stop Using Gestation Crates?

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July 20, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. – An animal advocacy group says Walmart is quickly becoming the lone major corporation that still allows its pork suppliers to use gestation crates.

Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy for Animals, says the video his group released this week shows the crates in use at Minnesota-based Christensen Farms, a major pork supplier for Walmart.

"In the last few months, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Safeway, Costco have all started demanding that their pork suppliers phase out these inherently cruel gestation crates, that don't even allow these animals to turn around or exhibit natural behaviors."

If Walmart hears from enough consumers who are against the practice, says Runkle, it would be left with no choice but to phase out the use of gestational crates.

"The writing is certainly on the wall that this is a practice that is out of step with most Americans' values, which say that animals should be treated humanely."

Some believe a move away from long-used techniques to others considered more humane would lead to a rise in food costs, although Runkle says that isn't necessarily the case.

"Many studies suggest that it's actually cheaper to raise pigs in group-housing systems, so this is really just a matter of the industry making a shift."

Walmart says it already offers "crate-free" pork products in many U.S. stores and continues to work with suppliers to find ways to increase that number.

Christensen Farms says gestational stalls allow for the best individual care of sows and are within standard animal-welfare practices.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN