Cargill Pork has announced that it has achieved a number of priority animal welfare assurance objectives related to hog production, handling, transportation and harvest.
Initiatives which have been mostly implemented over the past two years, include:
→ Since Oct. 1, 2008, Cargill has purchased hogs only from farms that have been certified under the National Pork Producers Council's Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA+) program. In December 2008, Cargill completed PQA + certification site assessments for all of the 450 farms where it has production contracts.
→ Cargill for the past two years has adopted group housing for gestating sows and has achieved its goal of having 50% of contract farms using group sow housing. New grower operations will need to meet Cargill's sow housing standards.
→ Cargill also instituted the pork industry's Transportation Quality Assurance (TQA) policy, which states that only truck drivers who are certified in humane handling of livestock are allowed to deliver animals to the company's plants.
→ In March 2008, Cargill established a Trucker Recognition Program that spotlights livestock haulers for individual performance in the proper handling of hogs. It also offers incentives to truckers for hauling healthy livestock to its plants. Cargill said the program has been important in achieving a significant reduction in non-ambulatory hogs delivered to company plants.
→ Cargill said 20 of its plant animal handling personnel are now trained and certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PACCO). In addition, Cargill plant employees that handle livestock receive about 82 hours of animal welfare training each per year. Managers in the facilities are required to be TQA certified and supervisors that work with animals in the pens are certified instructors in TQA.
→ The company has devoted trailers and teams in the Midwest to respond to truck accidents where swine are being transported. The teams were trained by industry expert Jennifer Woods.
→ For more than two years, Cargill has used video monitoring in its plants to help animal welfare management teach and monitor performance in animal handling. Cargill said it plans to enhance this system with new technologies.
Third quarter earnings
Meanwhile, Cargill has reported net earnings of $326 million in the 2009 third quarter ended Feb. 28, down 68% from a record $1.03 billion in the same period a year ago. In the first nine months, the company earned $3.01 billion, up 4% from $2.9 billion a year ago. Excluding earnings from its majority investment in The Mosaic Company, Cargill's results were below the year-ago level in both the third quarter and nine-month period.
The decrease in Cargill's third-quarter earnings touched all five of the company's business segments. Although performance within the segments was mixed, many businesses experienced weaker demand and lower sales volumes, as well as fewer trading opportunities as markets fluctuated within narrower ranges.