WHS campaign targets Manitoba hog industry

Sep 04, 2023

A new Winnipeg Humane Society billboard campaign takes aim at Manitoba’s pork industry.

Eight billboards have gone up around Manitoba’s most populous city, all carrying various warning messages about pig welfare on farms and during transportation in the province.

“Our goal is to educate consumers on the various animal welfare red flags that are associated with industrialized pork production,” said Brittany Semeniuk, animal welfare specialist for WHS.

Why it matters: Public trust and perception of animal welfare are perennial files with Manitoba’s main livestock groups, pork included.

Manitoba Pork general manager Cam Dahl said he wasn’t surprised to see the billboard campaign, given the current election campaign.

“We’re not alone. They launched a similar campaign in February against dairy and another campaign against eggs in May,” he said.

Gestation crates
One focus of the campaign, dubbed “Stop the Suffering” by the humane society, is the use of gestation stalls, which animal activists say are inhumane because they do not give sows enough room to properly move.

The WHS website states that “industrial agriculture denies mother pigs the chance to embrace their natural and maternal instincts, caging them in tight crates where they can barely turn around.”

In 2014, the Canadian pork sector agreed to phase out gestation crates by 2024 as part of an update to pig care standards set out by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

That timeline hit a speed bump. In 2020, in its five-year review of the code, the NFACC introduced a recommendation to extend the deadline to 2029 for transition away from gestation crates.

“Not all pork producers will be able to make the conversion to group housing by the 2024 deadline identified in the code without compromising the welfare of the animals, a risk that results from a rushed conversion to inadequate facilities, and/or causing significant financial burden for some producers,” the review stated.

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