Lawsuit Against California Pig Farm Dropped as Company Announces End to Abusive Breeding PracticesMarch 5th, 2008
Animal Legal Defense Fund Dismisses Lawsuit Arguing that Corcpork,
Inc. Violated Anti-Cruelty Laws by Keeping Pigs in Illegal Intensive
Santa Rosa, Ca.– The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), East Bay Animal Advocates, and three Bay Area residents today dismissed their lawsuit, originally filed in Sonoma County Superior Court, against Corcpork, Inc., California’s largest industrial pig farming operation, after the facility agreed to stop the abusive practice of confining thousands of female pigs in crates so tiny that they cannot turn around 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 settlement agreement states that "The elimination of breeding at the Corcoran farm is presently taking place and will be completed on or before May 31, 2008."
ALDF’s lawsuit alleged that Tulare County’s Corcpork, Inc. kept 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 [him or her] with an adequate exercise area." At Corcpork, the sows spent virtually their entire lives crammed into stalls that were often so small that the sows’ bodies were 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 were forced to endure a constant cycle of pregnancy followed almost immediately after giving birth by impregnation, until their bodies finally gave out.
Corcpork’s decision to end its abusive breeding operation, which, according to terms described in the dismissal, is not being relocated elsewhere, is part of a growing trend in the pig farming industry, driven by consumer demand and by lawsuits, like ALDF v. Corcpork, taking large "factory farms" to task for violating laws designed to protect both animals and consumers. In January 2007, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world, announced that it would phase out gestation stalls in all of its operations over the next ten years. Days later, Maple Leaf Foods, the largest pork producer in Canada, announced a similar ten-year phase out. Those decisions came in the wake of ballot initiatives in Florida and Arizona that banned the use of gestation crates in those states. A coalition of animal groups called Californians for Humane Farms has just completed gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to get a similar initiative on the California ballot in 2008. Smithfield Foods Vice President of Environmental and Corporate Affairs Dennis Treacy was quoted as saying the company’s decision to phase out crates was based on "the desires of customers, who for whatever reason, have asked us to look at different ways to do things."
"The writing is on the wall for industrial farming operations like Corcpork, who continue to subject animals to intensive confinement, despite increased consumer call for more humane farming methods," says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. "We’re delighted to be able to dismiss this lawsuit, knowing that thousands of intelligent, sensitive pigs will no longer suffer in conditions so cruel that they are unimaginable--and unacceptable--to the growing number of compassionate consumers who care about the welfare of farmed animals."
A copy of the settlement agreement is available upon request. For more information, visit www.aldf.org.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 with the unique
mission of protecting the lives and advancing interests of animals
through the legal system. The plaintiffs were represented by Bruce
Wagman and the San Francisco office of Schiff Hardin, and by Evans and
Page, San Francisco.