WAYNE Pacelle, chief executive officer and president of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), announced that he is no longer seeking a seat on the board of directors of Tyson Foods Inc.
Pacelle had reported in October that he would ask for shareholder support and run for election to the board (Feedstuffs, Oct. 8), but he noted on Dec. 21 that the company's dual-class stock structure would allow it to reject his election.
He said the "end goal" for him wasn't to be on the board but for Tyson to transition hog procurement away from production systems that use sow gestation stalls to systems that use group pens to house sows during gestation.
Tyson has resisted such a move on the basis that the company supports producers' right to choose housing systems that work best for them and that the availability of hogs from "stall-free" systems is limited. Tyson has said it will continuously evaluate availability and customer demand.
Tyson, the second-largest pork processor in the U.S., buys hogs from thousands of farmers across the U.S.
About 83% of all sows in the U.S. are housed in gestation stalls, according to a survey commissioned by the National Pork Producers Council (Feedstuffs, June 11).
Gestation stalls are enclosures for individual sows that provide room for the animal to lie down and stand up but not to walk or turn around. Alternative housing such as group pens allows greater freedom of movement.
However, animal care specialists have reported mixed conclusions from their work studying the two different kinds of systems, finding advantages and disadvantages to both, including animal welfare issues.
The pork producers council has taken a position similar to Tyson's in that producers should have options to choose the housing that works best for their management and operations.
Pacelle said HSUS will try to persuade Tyson to take a stall-free position through corporate campaigns, litigation, undercover investigations and other efforts to raise public awareness.
Equity investor Carl Icahn had supported Pacelle's run for a board seat and was advising him on strategy.