Animal Legal Defense Fund Appealing Ruling over Mistreated Pregnant and Nursing Pigs at State Fair

Posted on February 10, 2014

Fight Continues for Illegally Confined Sows at California State Fair

For immediate release:


Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

cal-expo-sow-crates-2013-article-image-500pxSACRAMENTO — Today, the Bay Area-based national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and two California taxpayers filed a notice of appeal in a lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California (UC Regents) and California Exposition and State Fair (Cal Expo). Cal Expo, a state agency, collaborates to host the fair with the UC Regents, which receives millions of taxpayer dollars annually. The lawsuit alleges that the UC Regents and Cal Expo unlawfully spent taxpayer money by transporting, confining, and exhibiting pregnant and nursing pigs at the Livestock Nursery Exhibit at the California State Fair (held at the Sacramento Fairgrounds July 2013) in violation of the state anti-cruelty law.

ALDF’s lawsuit alleges that nursing sows were placed in body-gripping “farrowing crates” for three weeks at last year’s State Fair, and were unable to walk, turn around, or stand comfortably. California’s anti-cruelty law, particularly penal code sections 597 and 597t, protects farmed animals by mandating adequate exercise for confined animals, and prohibiting their needless suffering. In December 2013, the Alameda County Superior Court held that newly enacted Proposition 2—which prohibits some forms of confinement but does not prohibit farrowing crates—supersedes the anti-cruelty law and dismissed the case. ALDF is appealing this ruling.

Farrowing crates confine sows while nursing, whereas gestation crates—which are banned for extreme animal cruelty in many states—confine sows during pregnancy. Last month, Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer, announced that its gestation crate elimination policy will extend to all of its third party contractors as well. Tyson Foods, Inc., the nation’s second largest producer of pork products, recently notified its supplier that all new facilities should allow mother pigs the ability to “stand, turn around, lie down, and stretch their legs.” In late December, Safeway, the second largest grocery chain in the U.S., converted its entire eastern division to sources that use group sow housing, and will ask all suppliers to provide such plans by the end of 2014. The National Pork Board reports that many pork producers have responded to such policy changes by switching their operations to open sow housing.

“The American public is more concerned than ever about the welfare of animals used in agriculture,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “State laws and major corporations are beginning to turn away from the intensive and cruel confinement of sows—and Californians do not want to support animal cruelty at a state exhibition funded by taxpayer dollars.”

Copies of the lawsuit are available by request.

31 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Appealing Ruling over Mistreated Pregnant and Nursing Pigs at State Fair

  1. Rietje Kuiper says:

    Please this is not good , stop this

  2. Lisa Warren says:

    Just because their animals doesn’t mean they don’t hurt or suffer. Stop this please.

  3. Keep up the difficult task and thank you.

  4. Amy Parks says:

    Please make this terrible stuff stop. These poor babies don’t deserve to be treated this way

  5. Janet Henderson says:

    Do you need letters written to law enforcement, FDA, USDA, law makers, Fair event organizers?????? How can we help?

    1. Eric Mills says:

      See my suggestions in comment #27.

      Eric Mills

  6. Karen Brandt says:

    I think this is horrible abuse and needs to stop .

  7. Donna Taylor says:

    Not just at state fairs, but even when they slaughter these animals there is NO need to be cruel and abuse any animal. I’m sorry to say I have seen awful footage of a cruel person torturing a mother pig. This makes me sick with anger….

  8. Ms Margaret Rebecca Keller says:

    There is no excuse for treating animals this way.

  9. Nancy says:

    Thank you for your efforts to protect the voiceless.

  10. Garr Sanders says:

    It is inhumane to make a thinking, feeling being live in a cage. Although this sow looks healthy, my concern is for it’s mental suffering. A cage is no place for any living thing to be isolated. The animal’s needs are not being met: socialising with it’s own kind and freely acting like a pig being physically and mindfully stimulated.

    Please help this animal. It will be the right step to take. And may even lead the way for the more humane treatment of our food animals.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  11. Brigitte St Jean says:

    Please make this terrible stuff stop. These poor babies don’t deserve to be treated this way, No one deserve to be treated like that and how would you like to be in a crate where you can’t move or turn around to take care of the babies.

  12. Brigitte St Jean says:

    These animals did not ask to be born but yet we treat them like criminals and the human criminals are treated like angels. Get the prison people and put them in a crate and leave animals alone.

  13. ellen says:

    so sad for these poor animals – thank you for all you are doing for them

  14. Pug mom says:

    Thank you for your diligence! How about checking out the Rancho Feeding Company in your backyard (Petaluma). I don’t even want to think anout the treatment cows get there!

  15. sophie says:

    PLEASE stop this. too unkind…how would you like it?

  16. This kind of cruelty is unfathomable to most people. Only they can’t stand to think about it and so they do nothing. I can only barely stand it. Thanks for having the courage to be our voice and our arm. People who treat farm animals in this way must be made to stop and to recognize themselves for the vicious criminals they are.

  17. Justine Smith says:

    Stop this now…

  18. Tammy Daly says:

    I am in full support of this lawsuit. Thank you!

  19. Giuliana Rinaldo says:

    Animals should not be allowed at fairs anymore. and all these people who allowed this mother pig and her piglets to sit out either in the heat or cold, separated from each other for who knows HOW LONG should be forced do to the same thing to see how they would like it. How uncomfortable and torturous. So, even when the pigs are not in the factory farm, they still force them to be in gestation crates at a fair too! No animal belongs caged up in ANYTHING, EVER! Lawsuit and a cage for these people too – Thanks for taking action ALDF!

  20. I think it’s extremely cruel on how your treat these animals. It looks so uncomfortable for her, it does. and her babies underneath her, she cant nurture them. This is totally a brutal, and very uncaring practice. This needs to STOP. !! No animal belongs in a cage like this. Where is your morality, your compassion. God see’s all.

  21. All mothers and babies need to be protected and cared for … remove the bars and treat respectfully

  22. Susan Buie says:

    This type of caging should stop immediately. It is wrong and mean. These babies should be with their mother and she should be resting not standing in one position.

  23. V says:

    This is horrific and these intelligent sentient beings
    do not deserve to be treated in such a manner.

  24. Penny says:

    Why did people visiting the fair not get this stopped? Cruel beyond belief.

  25. I agree strongly for this law suit! People that continue to torture these animals should get fined and shut down!!

  26. Renate says:

    I am in full support of this lawsuit. Thank you!

  27. Eric Mills says:

    You want to help? Then please express your concerns to Rick Pickering, CEO & Genl Mgr. of the California State Fair, and the Board of Directors. And consider attending the Fair Board meetings to speak up for the animals (usually the last Friday of each month).

    1600 Exposition Boulevard
    Sacramento, CA 95815

    Email –

    All state legislators may be written c/o The State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814. Senator Darrell Steinberg and Assemblymember Roger Dickinson are both ex-officio members of the Fair Board. They need to hear from us.

    Letters to the Editors of newspapers around the state would also be helpful.

    Thanks for caring!

    Eric Mills, coordinator
    email –

  28. Carolina says:

    The court should look beyond the “letter of the law” and to the “intent” of Prop 2. Pigs in farrowing crates, and all other intensely confined “farmed” animals, should benefit from that hard-won effort. The people of California have clearly spoken on this. Fingers crossed that the appeal succeeds. Why something as simple and basic as humane treatment of animals has to always be so hard to achieve is beyond me. Fingers crossed, ALDF.

  29. Nancy Rittenhouse says:

    NO animal should be treated inhumanely for ANY reason!!

  30. Linda P says:

    Turning a blind eye to abuse and neglect tells a lot about a person.

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