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ROCHESTER, MN — When we sit down to a meal that includes meat, we do not often want to think about how that meat went from animal to plate.
Some protesters are trying to get us thinking about exactly that and they want changes in the way animals are treated, while pointing the finger at the world’s largest retailer.
Even though Julie Wall is not part of the national campaign, she felt the need to help out when they stopped in her town.
“We’re asking Walmart, who is the biggest supplier of pork, to ask their suppliers to eliminate gestation crates,” said Wall, of Rochester.
Video animal activists say is from an undercover investigation at Christenson farms, one of Walmart’s main pork suppliers, shows some gruesome footage.
Mercy for Animals is an organization trying to stop this practice. They say the pork sold in the stores is coming from factory farms where pregnant pigs spend most of their lives locked in narrow, metal crates called gestation crates.
They say the investigation also found pigs suffering from bloody open wounds and sores.
“We’re on a nationwide tour right now and going almost all across this country bringing them the message that using gestation crates is egregious animal cruelty and it’s time to make changes,” said Jeni Haines, national campaign coordinator for Mercy for Animals.
They are stopping in cities where many eyes will see them and action will be taken.
“We’ve been to over 150 cities, so we’re just hitting all of the cities in the United States that have Walmarts that are large enough to send a powerful message,” Haines said.
Those like Wall say they are happy that the organization’s message is getting out in her community.
“I thought they stopped, but then they contacted me saying they were going to be in Rochester and I was thrilled by that because I had been following the campaign really closely,” Wall said.
Walmart has announced that they will phase out the use of gestation crates in Canada, but there is no word on that change happening in the U.S.
“This is a complicated issue. We’re listening closely to points of view from farmers, food manufacturers, animal rights organizations, customers and others. We think constructive dialogue and a collaborative approach is the right path to the right solution,” said Danit Marquardt, a Walmart spokesperson.
“We hold our suppliers to the highest standards and do not tolerate animal mistreatment,” Marquardt said.
She said they are working to find a common solution.
“We are currently engaged with pork suppliers, food safety experts and other organizations to work towards an industry-wide model that is not only respectful of farmers and animals, but also meets our customers’ expectations for quality and animal safety,” Marquardt said.