Bay Area Residents Join ALDF in Suing California Pig Farm for Abusing Thousands of Pregnant Sows
Central Valley’s CorcPork, Inc., linked to Farmer John® Commercial Pork Products, Violates Consumer Rights, Anti-Cruelty Laws, by Keeping Pigs in Illegal Intensive Confinement Conditions
January 25, 2007: Just one week after ALDF refiled its lawsuit against CorcPork in California Superior Court, Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, announced that it would phase out gestation crates at all of its company-owned pig farms over the next ten years. These crates, which confine sows for nearly their entire lives, are at the center of ALDF's lawsuit against CorcPork and Farmer John® brand products.
January 18, 2007
Santa Rosa, Ca.– The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), East Bay Animal Advocates, and three Bay Area residents filed a complaint in Sonoma County Superior Court today against CorcPork, Inc., California’s largest industrial pig farming operation, for confining thousands of female pigs in crates so tiny that they cannot turn or even scratch. The sows—all of them either pregnant or nursing—must lie on hard concrete floors, in their own excrement, without the ability to take even a single step. This confinement violates state anti-cruelty laws, which require that animals be provided with adequate exercise area. The lawsuit also names Farmer John® products, available at local retailers including Albertsons, Raley’s, Safeway, and Wal-Mart, for misleading the public about the treatment of the pigs, which are supplied by CorcPork.
Farmer John® boasts the assembly of its products has been “a family tradition since 1931;” ALDF’s lawsuit alleges that Tulare County’s CorcPork, Inc. keeps its roughly 9,000 pregnant and nursing pigs in violation of Section 597t of the California Penal Code, which requires that “every person who keeps an animal confined in an enclosed area shall provide it with an adequate exercise area.” At CorcPork, the sows spend virtually their entire lives crammed into stalls that are often so small that the sows’ bodies are forced into the bars at either end. Confined in these restrictive “gestation crates” (used during pregnancy) and “farrowing crates” (used during nursing), these highly sensitive animals are forced to endure a constant cycle of pregnancy followed almost immediately after giving birth by impregnation, until their bodies finally give out. The case was first filed in Los Angeles last summer but is being refiled in Sonoma County for procedural reasons.
Co-plaintiffs in the case are two Sonoma County residents and a San Mateo County resident who have purchased and consumed pork products over the past couple of years, including Farmer John® brand products, which can be traced to CorcPork. Christy Morgan of Sonoma, who grew up on a family farm, Susan Jackson of Santa Rosa, and Anna DeChenne of Foster City all believed that they were paying market value for products made in accordance with California law; they are suing because of the harm they have suffered by paying for illegally-produced goods that they now know to have come from pigs who have been cruelly raised in the process.
“In the past I believed that all companies represented in the California marketplace that were involved in raising, breeding, and slaughtering animals were following basic, legally-mandated humane guidelines,” says Santa Rosa resident Susan Jackson, one of the co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the pig farm. “As a result of learning how CorcPork treats its pigs, I realized that my trust in animal anti-cruelty laws was a blind trust, based on the assumption that as a ‘progressive’ state, California was a leader in the humane treatment of animals. Condoning any company that maintains its animals in crates too small to allow normal movement, in a continual state of pregnancy or nursing, is shameful.”