Editorial

      

Hormel Embarrassed by Mercy for Animals Video Release

Mar 29, 2017

    

Hormel Foods, a public-traded company with valuable brands has been embarrassed by the release of a video apparently documenting housing and management below accepted industry standards on supply farms contracted to the Maschhoff’s. Hormel maintains and enforces a strict supplier code of conduct and policies relating to animal care and welfare.

  

 In May of 2016, Mercy for Animals released a video claimed to have been filmed on a contract farm in Nebraska, demonstrating suboptimal handling.  The current video documents the use of gestation crates, crowding and unacceptable handling.

The president of Maschhoff’s, Bradley Wolter has initiated an investigation.  He maintains that the company has a zero tolerance for mistreatment which extends across all company employees and contractors.  He stated, “We view animal care as a continuous-improvement process and we will continue to make investments to further our animal care standards in the future.”  Hormel Foods has initiated an investigation and in the interim has suspended deliveries of hogs from the Maschhoff’s.

We are becoming all too familiar with the sequence of a video release purporting to show improper housing or management followed by negative publicity and a bland statement of policy by the CEO of an implicated Company  In many cases, clandestine videos have been shown to be either staged or images have been taken out of context.  Some of the Mercy for Animals releases have been proven to be without substance. Unfortunately some videos have shown egregious mistreatment of herds and flocks.

 It would appear to be good business practice to adhere to acceptable and documented standards of housing and management with responsible PAACO-certified personnel conducting third-party verification.  In this respect, the broiler and layer industries are evidently more advanced than other segments of livestock production.  Unfortunately, revelations whether justified or not in one animal production sector adversely affect all intensive livestock production. Given the power of social media we are vulnerable to the activities of organizations promoting a vegan agenda such as the HSUS and Mercy for Animals who use publicity from intrusion videos to generate financial support.

All livestock should be treated humanely and company culture should embrace realistic and scientific principles of welfare. The criterion should be, would one would be concerned to come to work on a Monday morning to find a “60-Minutes” team outside? If so there is something wrong and it needs correcting.