In November, proposed changes to Canada’s pig farming standards prompted VHS to launch a new advocacy campaign focused on pig welfare. The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), composed mostly of representatives from the animal agriculture industry, creates ‘codes of practice’ that serve as standards for the industry.
In 2014, NFACC’s update to the pig code of practice included a commitment to end the continuous use of gestation stalls for pregnant pigs and to transition to open housing by 2024. Gestation stalls are individual stalls that are so small that pigs are unable to turn around or engage in any natural behaviours. Animal welfare scientists, veterinarians and other experts have described gestation stalls as one of the cruelest forms of animal confinement and the equivalent to living in an airline seat. Meanwhile, the Retail Council of Canada, which represents grocery retailers, promised a similar move, through product sourcing, away from gestation stalls and toward alternative housing by the end of 2022.
Now, NFACC is attempting to extend their gestation stall deadline until 2029, leaving thousands of pregnant pigs to continue suffering in gestation stalls. VHS’s campaign called on the industry and Retail Council to keep their original housing transition commitments. To date, more than 4100 VHS supporters have joined us in speaking up for pigs. VHS will continue to monitor this important welfare issue moving forward.