Letters: Invitation to discuss hog production accepted

I accept Cam Dahl’s invitation to join the conversation about modern agriculture, pig production and public trust.

A couple of years ago I visited the Greenfield Maple Leaf hog facility. ML Greenfield takes sows that have been confined almost their entire lives in crates a little bigger than their bodies and “teaches” them how to live in groups with other sows on concrete. 

The sows seemed content lying around. A young sow got up and was in obvious pain. I asked the Maple Leaf reps to ask the barn workers to take a look at her and keep an eye on her. The reps seemed surprised at my request. I was puzzled.

Feeding time came. I had to bury my emotions. As the sows arose to walk to the feeding station they were all stiff, limping and had obvious difficulty moving around. I immediately understood the depth of the horrible existence these sows had been living in what the hog industry has marketed for the past 25 years as state-of-the-art, humane hog production practices. Yes, the National Farm Animal Codes have been revised to require producers to eliminate gestation crates. Why? Because they are clearly inhumane. But the industry has successfully lobbied for more delays in eliminating sow stalls. How can the industry and Dahl argue that hog production is humane and operates on “science?” 

The code is not a strictly scientifically designed code. Inhumane treatment is built into it. The degree of inhumane treatment acceptable in the production of pigs and other farm animals is politically negotiated into the Code. To claim other- wise is to be dishonest. 

Don’t get me started on the severe deficiencies in environmental regulation, the stench in the barn and a manure storage liner full of bubbles, built in a clearly unsuitable location. Maple Leaf’s showcase left a lot to be desired for a person who knows about farming and pigs. 

Tune into CBC’s radio show “Under the Influence.” You may learn to recognize the hog industry’s manipulation skills in marketing lies as truth. 

Ruth Pryzner

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