Coles Says SA Pig Farmers Back Welfare Change

AUSTRALIA - Retailer Coles has rejected a claim by South Australia's Agriculture Minister that it has coerced local pig farmers to stop using sow stalls.
calendar icon 4 August 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Animal welfare groups regard their use as cruel, reports ABC.

Coles says by 2014 it will stop buying pork from producers who use sow stalls.

Minister Michael O'Brien said there was a lack of consultation with the industry about the planned change and he feared many pork producers would suffer financial stress.

"These producers were basically told 'If you don't comply with what Coles want then we may actually go elsewhere'," he said.

"There was a high degree of coercion imposed in getting this particular outcome. They're unhappy with it and it's going to place them under enormous financial stress."

Mr O'Brien says it could ruin the SA pork industry.

The Minister said pregnant sows needed to be kept in stalls for their own wellbeing.

"We know if that they aren't confined in a particular period during their pregnancy the hormonal urge is to fight and in fighting they, in large number of instances, they abort the foetuses which has an impact on productivity," he said.

But Jim Cooper from Coles says the supermarket chain spoke to producers over several months about the planned change.

"We're one of the biggest supporters of the South Australian pork industry," he said.

"We buy fresh pork from about 50 farmers in South Australia. We have worked with them. They are comfortable with the process.

"So while the industry might make certain claims all we can say is our suppliers that we are working with on this are comfortable with it."

Mr Cooper is adamant use of sow stalls is no longer considered best practice in the industry.

"I don't profess to be an animal welfare expert but we have consulted with the RSPCA on what is best practice and them and other animal welfare groups are very pleased with where we are going," he said.

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