The nation’s largest food retailer, Walmart, has announced sweeping changes to its animal welfare policy. In doing so, the corporate giant is renouncing many of the practices currently common in factory farming.
This is a significant step towards reform, and comes on the heels of video (obtained by undercover investigators with Mercy for Animals) showing horrific abuse against pigs by Walmart’s pork suppliers.
“First, we expect that our suppliers will not tolerate animal abuse of any kind.
Second, we support the globally-recognized “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare as an aspiration for animal welfare in our supply chain:
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by providing ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
- Freedom from Discomfort – by providing appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by ensuring prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to Express Normal Behavior – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
- Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Third, we will work with our supply chain partners to implement practices consistent with the Five Freedoms of animal welfare.”
Walmart has explicitly asked its suppliers to follow these guidelines, as well as to report abuse to authorities and address many animal welfare concerns.
MFA and other animal advocacy organizations have lobbied to urge Walmart to make these kinds of changes, including (as MFA reports) implementing: “150 protests at Walmart stores across the country, full-page newspaper ads, mobile billboards circling the Walmart headquarters in Arkansas, 640,000 petition signatures on Change.org, and A-list celebrity support from Joaquin Phoenix, Ryan Gosling, Sia, Pamela Anderson, Emily Deschanel, and more.”
Considering that Walmart dominates 25% of the U.S. grocery market, this will make a difference in the lives of lots of farm animals.
Although the company (and the world) has a long way to go, every step that improves the lives of animals is a step in the right direction.