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Animal Rights Group Puts Pig Welfare Under A Microscope

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – An animal protection organization is calling for changes in the way pregnant pigs are handled.

Sleepy Eye’s Christensen Farms is one of the largest pork producers in the country, and it’s one of Wal-Mart’s biggest pork suppliers.

A group called Mercy for Animals wants it to change its practices.

“Every time that we shine a camera into one of these facilities, we document abuses that shock and horrify most Americans,” said Matt Rice of Mercy for Animals.

Mercy for Animals released a video shot by an undercover employee in Hanska, Minn., between December and March. It spotlights practices the group calls abuse, such as keeping pregnant pigs in gestation stalls.

Earlier this week, Costco reacted to the video by telling its suppliers to phase out gestation crates by 2022. The group wants Wal-Mart to do the same.

“What’s missing here is context,” said David Preisler of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association. “There’s a reason we do a number of the things we do.”

Pork producers say pregnant pigs often fight, and hurt each other, making the stalls safer.

Christensen says its housing systems are “within standard animal welfare practices.” And the pork producers association says retrofitting farms would cost $200 to $300 per sow.

“In the end, then, it is going to result in higher food costs,” Preisler said. “The consumer, in the end, pays all costs.”

The national pork producers council says it analyzed the video, and said it does not show abuse.

Wal-Mart officials say they will continue discussions with suppliers, but say they already offer a crate-free pork product.

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