Last week, Tyson Foods announced the launch of its “FarmCheck” program, through which the company plans to conduct animal-welfare audits with its suppliers. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), predictably, does not think the program goes far enough.
Earlier this week, we reported that R-CALF USA also objects to the plan, calling it “a means by which the mega-corporation can exert its muscle to violate the privacy of hard-working, independent family farm and ranch cattle producers; extract from those independent family cattle producers valuable marketing information at no cost; and then charge consumers a premium price for the information it has extracted for free.”
While R-CALF believes the audits will go too far, HSUS says, in a news release, they will not go far enough. “Audits are valuable if farm inspectors ask the right set of questions,” says the organization’s president and CEO, Wayne Pacelle. “We’ve not suggested that Tyson contractors are denying food to animals or intentionally abusing them, but that they are denying them enough space to even turn around. Tyson’s announcement would mean more if the company was getting its pork from farmers who do not confine sows in crates that immobilize the animals.”
The statement apparently refers to a Tyson news release about the program, in which the company says it has begun using the program on a trial basis with some hog farms that supply the company. “Auditors are visiting the farms to check on such things as animal access to food and water, as well as proper human-animal interaction and worker training,” the company says.
The HSUS filed a complaint last May with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that Tyson’s claims to audit its suppliers under the pork industry’s “Pork Quality Assurance Plus” program were false, because that program has no enforceable animal welfare standards.
Tyson, meanwhile, has not even released the standards for the program. They currently are assembling a group of veterinarians, ethicists and animal scientists to develop the audits, and the beef and poultry programs will not be underway until 2014. So much of this complaining takes place in the absence of program requirements.
HSUS, of course, will not be satisfied unless Tyson, and all the farmers and ranchers who supply their livestock, went out of business.