HSUS Condemns "Extreme Confinement" on Hog Farms

Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS

An organic dairy farm provided the backdrop, as the Humane Society of the United States met with Nebraska farmers, saying the time has come to end what CEO Wayne Pacelle calls extreme confinement.

"Immobilizing animals in cages or crates that don't allow them to turn around is not acceptable part of animal husbandry," he told NTV.

John Hansen of Nebraska Farmers Union agrees. He says dozens of major food providers have taken steps to no longer buy pork produced this way, including McDonalds, Denny's, and Qdoba.

He said, "We're seeing major chain after major chain work with HSUS on the national level."

Hansen said HSUS has had success working with food suppliers, and at the same time, by working with Farmers Union, he said they have been able to avoid turning it into an election issue.

But the National Pork Producers cite the American Veterinary Medical Association, saying this housing arrangement protects sows.

And the operators of Pillen Family Farms agree.

"We really believe in individual housing," Sarah Pillen said. "We think it's the best way, protects animals from each other because sows are incredibly aggressive animals towards each other and also allows us to be able to give individual attention to every single animal. If we have a sick sow, we're able to monitor and make sure she's doing all right."

On a recent farm tour, observers noted how clean the Pillen's barns are, and how quiet the pigs are. They say a sign the hogs are happy. And happy, healthy animals turn into dollars for rural Nebraska.

HSUS says it has no problem with farmers making money, but they say it's at the expense of hogs.

Wayne Pacelle said, "We want farmers to be succeed, we just want animals to be treated well throughout the process."

As NTV has documented in the past, some say HSUS misleads people who think they're supporting a network of local animal shelters, which they're not.

HSUS says donors know the organization focus on big picture police issues.

John Hansen, of Farmers Union, says opponents to HSUS are being funded by big alcohol, tobacco, and restaurant money. He said Farmers Union is trying to work with Nebraska producers to open new markets.

Farm Bureau, the state's largest general farm organization is part of a coalition called We Support Agriculture that condemns HSUS. The coalition says no one cares more for animals than farmers do.