Smithfield Retracts Reform

Smithfield halts plans to give pigs more breathing room.

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Whenever a large meat company makes a move to improve the lives of animals, it seems as though they deserve kudos for progressive thinking. Smithfield Foods Inc., however, has halted the plans it made in 2007 to better the lives of its farmed hogs. In 2007, Smithfield earned praise from animal rights groups for announcing it would replace gestation crates with roomier “group housing” by 2017, and thus allowing more freedom for pregnant sows. Due to poor business outturn—the company lost $171 million alone in the fourth quarter of 2009—Smithfield says it can’t afford the $300 million transition to group pens. Looks as though Smithfield tried to take a step forward, only to end up two steps back.