Monday, January 22, 2007

Cruelty Suit Brought Against California Pork Company

Very interesting and possibly monumental suit. We will see how this proceeds.


Large pork producers accused of pig cruelty


SANTA ROSA – Animal rights activists claim one of the state's largest pig farmers violates state anti-cruelty laws by crating pregnant pigs and limiting their movement, in a suit filed Thursday in Sonoma County Superior Court.

The lawsuit, filed against Corcoran-based CorcPork Inc. by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, East Bay Animal Advocates and three San Francisco Bay area residents, says the company is violating a section of the California penal code that requires farm animals to be given an "adequate exercise area."

CorcPork, an industrial hog processor based in Kings County, and Clougherty Packing Co., a Los Angeles-based subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp. that buys meat from CorcPork, are named as defendants.

Clougherty's Farmer John branded links and sausages are carried by many supermarket chains. The individual plaintiffs, who claim to have bought and eaten Farmer John products, accuse the brand of fraudulent business practices by allegedly misleading consumers.

CorcPork advertises that its sows have been raised in "a family tradition since 1931."

About 9,000 of CorcPork's pregnant sows live in stalls so small they can't take a step, according to the complaint. The sows endure cycles of pregnancy, nursing and further impregnation there, living amid their feces until they die, the suit states.

"The practice is hidden from the public eye, so that the purchasers of products from these pigs are unaware of the illegal manner in which the animals who provide meat have been treated," the complaint reads. "Consumers are not informed."

Corcoran farm is owned by four siblings and employs animal husbandry practices that are "scientifically proven to be effective and humane," said Steve Duchesne, a spokesman for Clougherty Packing.

The small gestation stalls keep pregnant sows from harming one other, and the small farrowing stalls deter sows from crushing their nursing piglets, he said.

"This is the continuation of the seemingly endless attacks by these extreme animal rights organizations against responsible livestock farmers," Duchesne said.

Animal rights groups seek a court order to change the way the sows are treated.

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