Shareholders to Tyson Foods: Disclose Pig Gestation Crates Risks


by | Aug 19, 2013

TysonTyson Foods’ shareholders have submitted a resolution asking that the meat giant disclose the financial and operational risks associated with its use of pig gestation crates.

The Humane Society of the United States, investment firm Green Century Capital Management and the United Methodist Church Benefit Board jointly filed the proposal. This is the second year investors have asked Tyson Foods to disclose risks associated with the controversial crates.

Gestation crates measure about 2 feet by 7 feet and are used to tightly confine breeding pigs — to the point where they cannot turn around — for most of their lives. Pigs are transferred to another cage to give birth, re-impregnated and put back into a gestation crate.

About 60 of the world’s largest pork buyers — including McDonald’s, Burger King, Costco, Oscar Mayer and others — have committed to eliminating the crates from their supply chains.

Pork providers Smithfield Foods and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017. Smithfield’s pledge followed a legal complaint by the Humane Society alleging that the pork supplier claimed to have higher animal welfare and environmental standards than it actually did.

Pork supplier Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free.

A survey this year by the National Pork Board found that 53 percent of pork producers said they do not use gestation crates or plan to stop using them in favor of group housing of sows.

Investors filed 110 shareholder resolutions related to sustainability issues this proxy season with 94 US companies, according to business nonprofit Ceres, which helped coordinate the shareholder filings.

Among the 2013 resolutions filed with major US manufacturers, consumer brands and service providers, many investors requested board oversight of corporate sustainability issues and comprehensive disclosure via sustainability reports. Overall, investors withdrew more than 40 of the 110 resolutions after the companies responded affirmatively to their specific requests, Ceres says.


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