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TYSON TO REQUIRE ANIMAL WELFARE REGULATIONS FROM ITS CATTLE PRODUCERS
Des Moines Register reports:

A Tyson leader told Iowa cattle producers they must meet animal welfare requirements next year if they want to supply the giant meat processor.

Lora Wright, Tyson's beef supply chain manager, said the Springdale, Ark., company will begin requiring beef and chicken suppliers to meet on-farm requirements for animal treatment.

A third-party auditor will visit farms to ensure compliance, assessing them on issues such as how workers handle animals, whether animals have access to adequate food and water, and whether treatment is humane.

Wright told about 50 cattle producers at the Iowa Cattlemen Association's annual convention in Altoona that it mostly requires producers to document their already strong husbandry practices. The annual convention runs through Wednesday at Prairie Meadows Event Center.

The requirements, already in place for Tyson's hog producers, are being driven by customers that include McDonald's and Whole Foods.

"Animal well-being is not a new request for Tyson," Wright said. "We've had customer inquiries for years about how our plants are taking care of animals once we receive them. What's different now is that our customers want to know what programs are in place with our livestock suppliers."

A year ago, Tyson announced it was requiring the animal welfare audits of about 3,000 pork producers. The company, with $33.3 billion in sales last year, has been under pressure from animal-welfare advocates to eliminate gestation crates that fail to provide pregnant hogs enough space to move, among other more humane treatment of production animals.

Wright told the group that voluntary industry efforts are "not enough" in the eyes of consumers. "Our customers want more," she said, adding that multiple customers have taken a stance on individual sow housing, requiring 10-year plans to eliminate them.

"Tyson feels it's not just about gestation crates," she said. "We're a three-protein company - beef, pork and chicken - and we want to ensure that all livestock producers handle animals appropriately."

Cattle producers will be told if their care is acceptable, needs improvement or is unacceptable.

Wright said no pork producer has been determined to be unacceptable. But the company last month distanced itself from an Oklahoma pork producer after a video was released showing widespread animal cruelty.

Several cattle producers questioned why Tyson was requiring a program separate from industry efforts such as the Beef Quality Assurance program, suggesting that they will face multiple audits from meat processors each putting together their own plans.

Wright said she would work with the cattle producers to see if one plan could be implemented to reduce duplication of animal welfare requirements. But she emphasized the need for independent auditing. "It can't be a case of the wolf watching the hen house," she said.


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