A large bloody pig will be the key part of a demonstration Wednesday in front of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in North Platte. An animal rights activist group, Mercy For Animals, intends to set up an inflatable pig Wednesday at 11 a.m. in a simulated crate in front of the store to protest modern ways of pork production.
The 10-feet-tall inflatable pig will greet customers outside the super center, the group said.
Mercy For Animals is joining the National Humane Society in calling on Wal-Mart to require pork suppliers to gradually phase out the practice of confining pigs in crates — something Kroger, Safeway, Costco, and McDonald’s have also done.
McDonald’s agreed last summer that by 2022 it would stop buying pork from farms that use crates.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Danit Marquette said the company is already addressing the "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."
Sows in industrial-style hog farms are housed during gestation and farrowing in crates of metal bars, about 7 feet long and 2 feet wide, for much of her adult life.
Pork producers say the crates are necessary to protect newborn piglets from being crushed by the sow and to keep sows from fighting, which they often do when housed together in larger pens.
"I know on my own farm I moved from open pens to stalls many years ago because too many sows were being injured or denied feed," Everett Forkner of the National Pork Board told Reuters news service in 2010. "When sows are thrown together they can become very aggressive. Dominant sows physically attack the others, bite them and steal their food."
Marquette said Wal-Mart hold its suppliers to the highest standards and does not tolerate animal mistreatment.
Wal-Mart is working "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,” she said.
Nathan Runkle founded Mercy For Animals 10 years ago. He was raised on a farm in rural Ohio and grew disgusted with some of the modern practices of pork production, according to the Mercy For Animals website.
The MFA website also has a grisly, edited, undercover video of industrial-type pork production practices.
This report was updated at 6:15 p.m. Monday.