Imagine spending your life crammed into a space about as big as an airline seat.
Imagine not being able to turn around, to roll over, or to stretch your limbs comfortably.
Imagine being so frustrated and stressed by being forced to live like this that you bite the bars of your cage (because that's the only thing you can get to) until your mouth bleeds.
Imagine the suffering...
For millions of pigs in gestation crates, this is not make-believe. It's how they are forced to spend most of their lives, day in, and day out, for months at a time.
As you may already know, gestation crates are intensive confinement systems used in hog farming. They're used to restrain a pregnant sow until she gives birth. Gestation crates typically measure 2 x 6.6 feet, barely larger than the sow.
Since the purpose of a factory farm sow is to produce litter after litter, as often as possible, this is where she will spend most of her life -- until the final few months when she is fattened for the walk to the slaughterhouse floor.
Agricultural industry groups attempt to defend the cruelty of gestation crates by claiming that they are superior to group housing. But the research does not support their point of view. In fact, agricultural expert Temple Grandin unambiguously rejects gestation crates:
We've got to treat animals right, and gestation stalls have got to go... Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.
In industrial agriculture, profit is paramount. Factory farmers prefer gestation crates because they are cheaper and easier to work with than alternative methods, such as group housing. The well-being of the sow is only a concern insofar as keeping the animal alive, and the psychological and physical trauma is irrelevant, as long as the meat is marketable.
Yet consumer sentiment is firmly against gestation crates. Two thirds of California voters chose to ban intensive confinement systems. And voters have gotten their representatives to ban gestation crates in Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Rhode Island, Oregon, and Ohio.
And, more and more, retailers and wholesalers are listening. Hundreds of food product producers and food buyers are eliminating gestation crates from their supply chains, including ConAgra, Aramark, Costco, Sysco, Sodexo, Safeway, Kroger, Target, Applebee's, IHOP, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Campbell Soup Co., Hillshire Farms, Jack in the Box, McDonald's, Denny's, and many more. In April of 2013, every leading Canadian retailer signed onto an agreement to eliminate gestation crates.
Even companies that once paid Richard Berman to shill for them are paying attention. Former Berman financer, Wendy's, is abandoning gestation crates and moving to more humane production methods.
But Big Ag is not listening.
Big Ag, stubbornly resistant to the winds of change, wants to cling to outmoded, inhumane methods of production in the face of impending reforms. They refuse to even try to change. Instead, they plan to change the way we think about the suffering of sows in gestation crates. How?
By reframing the issue. By putting lipstick on a tortured pig.
Richard Berman has been spending a great deal of time with pork producers, urging them to rally the troops and defend against animal welfare. The first phase of Berman's strategy is a campaign to whitewash the cruelty of gestation crates, starting with the name. He suggests "maternity pens," a warm and fuzzy name for a decidedly cold, harsh practice.
The goal is to frame gestation crates as loving, nurturing environments, and to downplay the reality of pressure sores and bloody concrete.
It is, in a word, hogwash.
You can stop him. When you see the misleading term "maternity pens", make sure everyone reading understands who is behind the propaganda, and what it defends: the cruel, lifelong confinement of sensitive and intelligent animals in a claustrophobic cage.
Berman's campaigns rely on ignorance to spread. Counter them with the facts.
For more on gestation crates:
- Animal Visuals: Virtual Gestation Crate
- HSUS: Undercover Investigation Documents Pig Abuse at Tyson Supplier
[WARNING: graphic video]
- Mercy For Animals: Concealed Cruelty - Pork Industry Animal Abuse Exposed
[WARNING: graphic video]
- Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production: Phase out Intensive Confinement
- CNN: What are gestation crates?
- White Paper: Welfare Issues with Gestation Crates for Pregnant Sows
- HSUS: Timeline of Major Farm Animal Protection Advancements
Bloomberg News has issued a report into the potentially criminal activities of Berman and Company, Inc. and its nonprofit front groups. The report highlights Berman's legal troubles and questionable activities.
Berman, unsurprisingly, had no comment.
Read the full article at Bloomberg.com.
Last week the Sons of Liberty saga continued in a series of meetings with students, the Student Assembly and the administration. The spillover stemmed from the 8 November anti-affirmative action bake sale at which the Sons of Liberty, an official student organization, sold cookies and brownies in groups of four for $1 for whites, $0.75 for Asians, $0.50 for African Americans and Hispanics and $0.25 for Native Americans, while playing a game called "Ghettopoly," viewed by many to be racist and offensive.
"I guess by the technical, legal definition we did discriminate," Coggin said.
Will Coggin (l), president and co-founder of the Sons of Liberty, and Adam McCool offer treats for purchase at race-weighted prices.
A frat party rape case that sparked a study of alcohol use at the College of William and Mary last fall ended Wednesday when all the sexual assault charges were dropped, and the man accused of the rape pleaded guilty to two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
A student newspaper is being sued for $800,000 on allegations that the paper published defamatory statements last year about a rape victim.
[...]Remnant editor-in-chief Will Coggin did not return calls for comment, but he told the Daily Press Thursday afternoon that the newspaper staff would review the complaint today.
''We feel like we've done everything right,'' Coggin said in the article. ''We're prepared to defend ourselves.''
The Remnant ran into trouble in February when newspaper staff posted fliers around campus naming another alleged rape victim.
The Remnant wrote, "[P]olice are speculating that like many other wannabe victims and con artists, [Desiree Nall, president of the Brevard Chapter of the National Organization for Women] was trying to draw attention to an issue she thought was important," in the story in question from the issues "Nasty, Brutish, and Short" section.
The story continues, "Fortunately, in this case, a specific persons name was not dragged through the mud, unlike the case of Kenneth Ian Lang, the only real victim from last years fiasco. The Remnant is grateful that this fraud is being charged and urges the same for the girl who lied last year."
Remnant Editor in Chief Will Coggin said Thursday afternoon that he was unaware of the lawsuit. He could not be reached Friday. "We feel like we've done everything right," Coggin said Thursday. "We're prepared to defend ourselves."
[...]The Daily Press is withholding the woman's name because the newspaper generally does not identify people who say they have been raped.
The Remnant, Kevin DeAnna, Marcus Epstein, Will Coggin, Liz Kveselis, George McCallister, Defendants.
On February 15, students saw more flyers. This time, however, the flyers announced a news exclusive by The Remnant about developments in the now infamous rape case. Vague new sources reportedly revealed inconsistencies in the accuser's version of events. A web link to a more detailed online article appeared at the bottom of the flyer.
"Until now, students knew precious little about the specifics of what occurred that night. Statements by some of the involved parties, obtained by The Remnant, specify some of the critical facts that caused the charges against [the accused] to be dropped," Coggin stated in a press release on February 15. Defending the continued coverage, he said, "The student body needs to be kept informed on this crucial matter."
[...]Neither the flyer nor website coverage included the source of the so-called "breaking news." In fact, the source calling into question the events was the civil lawsuit filed by the accused. The Remnant report omitted this important fact, but included unnecessary details about the accuser, including her home address.
A newspaper editor used an early-morning stakeout to catch a university employee last week in the act of tearing down fliers posted by newspaper staff that named an alleged rape victim.
Will Coggin, editor of The Remnant, a student newspaper at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., waited for more than two hours in the chilly morning air before spying a university employee who removed several fliers from a communal posting board at about 7 a.m.
Coggin said when he ran up to the employee and confronted him about tearing down the fliers, the man said he had been instructed to remove ''foul material.''
Coggin then followed the employee, snapping photos with his digital camera as the man threw away a handful of fliers and retreated to a campus facilities building. He said after he followed the man to his office, peppering him with questions, the employee threatened to have him arrested if he did not leave the premises.
A dismissal order signed by Charles City County Judge Thomas Hoover on Sept. 5 states that the case was dismissed without prejudice "upon agreement of the parties."
The suit stems from an Oct. 28, 2005, incident at an off-campus sorority party hosted by John Gerdelman, a member of the university's Board of Visitors. A 20-year-old female student accused then-senior Patrick Decker of raping her, but the charges were dropped Jan. 4, after prosecutors found conflicting and insufficient evidence to support a charge.