Mercy for Animals, a national nonprofit dedicated to preventing cruelty to farm animals, has taken issue with how the swine are housed in Oklahoma pig farms.
“The pork industry's secret ingredient is egregious animal abuse,” said Phil Letten, national campaign coordinator for the Los Angeles-based Mercy for Animals.
He said pigs are kept in “filthy, crowded conditions,” packed into tiny stalls where they cannot move.
Letten said that practice has been banned by the entire European Union, as well as states such as Florida, California, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado.
“It is high time that Oklahoma pork producers realize it is out of step with most Americans' basic values to confine mother pigs inside stalls so small that the animal is virtually immobilized their entire life,” he said.
But Roy Lee Lindsey, Oklahoma Pork Council executive director, said that the key issue to ensure proper care isn't housing, but humans.
“Some of those [housing operations] involve stalls, some involve group-penning, but what we find is that the most important process in how we care for our animals is the individual who provides the care,” he said. “The housing system is secondary. Paramount to us, every day when we get up, is taking care of our animals. We are completely dependent on those animals to provide for us, and in order to do that, we must provide for them.”
Letten disputes that claim.
“Not a single federal law provides protection of pigs, but they're every bit as capable of experiencing pain and suffering as the dogs and cats so many of us know and love,” he said. “If pork producers treated dogs and cats to the array of animal abuses they inflict on pigs, they would be arrested and jailed on grounds of animal cruelty.”