How consumer and farmer attitudes are making a positive impact on pig farming

(BPT) - At a time when consumer interest in sustainability is changing how many companies make, source and distribute products, concern for the humane treatment of farmed animals is focusing shoppers' attention on where their food comes from. In response to consumer demand, a new California law, Proposition 12 or The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, aims to regulate better living conditions at farms producing eggs, veal and pork. While legal battles over the law are ongoing, many pork producers nationwide are preparing to comply. Because the California law impacts any farmers supplying products to that state, the law, if upheld by the Supreme Court, will have far-reaching effects.

For pork production, the law will determine how much space pregnant sows are provided. While many unfamiliar with pig farming may imagine a large outdoor pen with animals milling freely about, today’s pork production is a far different picture: To maximize efficiency, most farms keep pigs in small, rectangular metal cages (or "crates"), with pregnant sows completely unable to turn around, lie down and extend their legs. The Humane Society of the United States, among many other advocates, view this as inhumane. The law increases the current industry standard of 14 square feet per crate to a minimum 24 square feet for these approximately 500-pound animals, allowing them room to turn and lie down.

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