August 19, 2013
Tyson Shareowners Call for Humane Treatment of Animals
by Robert Kropp
Green Century Capital Management is co-filer of a resolution requesting that meat processing
company report on risks associated with the use of gestation crates for pigs.
According to the US Humane Society, gestation
crates are used by meat processing companies to confine breeding pigs in such a way as to
nearly immobilize them while they endure repeated impregnations. “These individual cages are
approximately two feet wide,” the Humane Society reports, “So small the animals can't even turn
around or take more than a step forward or backward.”
Yet cost-effective alternatives to
gestation crates exist, and an Iowa State University comparison of crates and the more humane group
method housing found that the latter resulted in a reduced cost per weaned pig. It is for this
reason as well as corporate reputation that many food companies and meat processors are phasing out
the use of gestation crates.
Apparently—and despite a 2012 investigation that recorded
graphic examples of animal cruelty at one of its suppliers—Tyson Foods is one of a dwindling number
of meat processors that cling to the use of gestation crates, despite evidence of cost savings and
surveys indicating that the vast majority of Americans want gestation crates banned. Nine states
have outlawed their use.
In response to Tyson’s intransigence on the issue, three
shareowners—the Humane Society, Green Century
Capital Management, and the United Methodist Church Benefit Board—have submitted a resolution
to be voted on by shareowners at the company’s annual general meeting in January, 2014.
The shareowners want Tyson to report to them on the financial and reputational risks associated
with the use of gestation crates. “Rising concerns over these cages have rapidly shifted the
marketplace, with dozens of top global food brands—including Tyson customers—demanding change,” the
resolution states. “Tyson’s failure to disclose the risks associated with the indefinite inclusion
of gestation crates in its supply chain is of concern to shareholders.”
every leading pork buyer in the nation having publicly committed to eliminating gestation crates
from their supply chains, investors are extremely concerned about the implications of Tyson’s
refusal to meet its buyers’ needs,” Leslie Samuelrich, Senior Vice President at Green Century,
said. “Tyson may be at risk of losing its market if it continues to ignore the changed economic
landscape. Investors expect the company to act ethically and demand that it act sensibly.”
SRI World Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.