In an effort to convince Tyson Foods to phase out its use of gestation crates – Humane Society of the United States President and CEO Wayne Pacelle will seek a seat on the company’s Board of Directors. He’s doing so with the support of Carl Icahn – who Pacelle notes has re-engineered some of the biggest companies in America. Pacelle admits he has a remote chance of getting elected to the board – but says he can add a valuable perspective to the company if his campaign is successful. Icahn is supporting Pacelle’s bid because he believes eliminating gestation crates will prevent cruelty to animals and improve Tyson’s business prospects by putting the company on equal competitive footing with the bulk of the industry that is already rejecting gestation crates. HSUS has been pressuring pork producers to eliminate the use of gestation crates. Smithfield Foods, Hormel Foods and Cargill have started to phase out individual sow housing or have committed to a timetable to do so.
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson says the company is committed to humane animal treatment and expects the same from the farmers who supply it with chickens, hogs and cattle. He notes experts have said both gestation crates and group housing are humane for mother pigs when managed properly.
HSUS owns stock in Tyson – as well as a dozen other companies that use animal products – providing its representatives the opportunity to attend shareholder meetings and submit proposals for what they consider improved animal welfare policies.