Paul Shapiro on Smithfield, vegetarian stats, and swimming pigs!  »

It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! Yes! And check out that amazing new graphic from Megan Rascal! Two geniuses, united in genius, saving animals, looking good, and being awesome! Now, onto Mr. Shapiro's news!

Important breaking news today: Smithfield—the nation’s largest pig producer—is recommitting to end its gestation-crate use on company-owned factory farms by 2017. We of course always want more and faster, but considering that no other major U.S. pig producer has any commitment to stop using gestation crates at all, this is certainly welcome news. National AP story on it here.

While Florida has already banned gestation crates, one of its state senators wants to keep the public in the dark about factory farming cruelty, and has reintroduced his infamous “ag-gag” legislation that would make it a crime to photograph these facilities.

Very interesting new poll showing that 16 percent of Americans eat vegetarian more than half the time. Wow.

If you also like eating vegetarian food, and perhaps even listening to a hysterical vegetarian stand-up comedian like Dan Piraro (of Bizarro fame), I hope to be hanging out with you this Saturday night!

Video of the week: How pigs really ought to live.


Paul Shapiro Presents: Animal News You Can Use!  »

It’s time for the next installment of Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! Take it away, Paul!

I’ve got an op-ed in Capital Press (an ag trade publication) about why it might be a good idea to let farm animals turn around. Yep, this is still a debate.

AP has a good article about our work in California. Take-away line: “’Of all the animal organizations, HSUS has the money and the political savvy to be problematic for my clients going forward,’ said Michael Boccadoro, a poultry industry lobbyist. ‘They are on another level.’”

In the shocker of the year, Smithfield is refusing to give HSUS details about its plans to stop using gestation crates to confine breeding pigs.

Do you like getting massages? So do fish. Pretty cool. Also cool (and feels better than a massage): This national AP story about vegan celebrities and billionaires.

Finally, if you live near Grand Rapids, I hope to see you in a few days!

P.S. Video of the week: Piglets Gone Wild, courtesy of my good friends at Animal Place.


The Humane Society takes on Smithfield and the McRib  »

The Humane Society of the United States has filed a complaint against Smithfield Foods, who supplies the pork for the McVom, in reaction to a series of videos HSUS says are misleading. You can read the whole complaint in PDF form. The Atlantic has great coverage for you but if you want to watch the videos in question, here’s a pretty great one about gestation:

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]

I know it’s supposed to show you how great they treat these pigs but does anyone else find this video super-disturbing anyway? And this is what it looks like when you try to sugar-coat it? Jeez louise, that’s messed up. Speaking of messed up, here’s the HSUS’ undercover footage from Smithfield Foods last year:

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]

You can see how much Smithfield is committed to animal care, right? Well if you have any doubts, Smithfield will clear that right up for you! Here’s my new favorite site: It’s pure comedic genius (I love deadpan). This part is great:

The animals we raise are the core of our business. Their well-being is pivotal to our success, and we do all we can to ensure their safety, comfort, and health. Indeed, our entire operations revolve around sound animal care.

See, I thought CASH MONEY was the core of their business. Because really, C.R.E.A.M. But all this time, it’s actually been pigs. I find that a little confusing though because where does the slaughtering part fit into a pig’s wellbeing? Whether you think animals should be killed for meat or not, you have to admit there’s a bit of a discord there. They should really say something like, “we do all we can to ensure their safety, comfort, and health, except for the part where we kill them and eat them.” There you go, just tack that little bit on the end and it’s much less of a lie. I know I definitely feel more comfortable now. 

And how many veterinarians did that promo video say they have? Like 17? That doesn’t sound like that many when you read this:

 As the world’s largest producer of pork, Murphy-Brown LLC, our hog production independent operating company (IOC), and its subsidiaries, own approximately 460 farms and contract with about 2,135 contract hog producers in the United States alone. Smithfield’s meat processing operations also receive pigs from numerous independent hog producers, whose numbers fluctuate depending upon market conditions.

We’re supposed to believe that a handful of well-paid industry vets can account for the wellbeing of the pigs at all those farms? As we know from what I wrote previously, Murphy Brown can’t even ensure its employees’ safety, but somehow they can care for millions of pigs? 

Smithfield wrote a response to the complaint but there’s nothing really worth mentioning from it. It’s just kind of whiney. 

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