In Passionate Plea, Congress Urges USDA to Reconsider Allowing Faster Pig Slaughter

January 22, 2016

On January 19, 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking it to reconsider its troubling plan to allow faster slaughter-line speeds for pigs.

Following its push in 2014 to increase line speeds at poultry slaughter plants, which the ASPCA helped to partially defeat, the USDA has said it will propose new rules in 2016 to allow pig slaughter plants to operate at higher speeds. Currently, five plants enjoy an exemption that allows them to use higher speeds through a pilot program of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-based Inspection Model Project (HIMP). USDA’s proposed rule would broaden this pilot program to make it available to other plants as well.

Standard pig slaughterhouses that don’t participate in the accelerated speed “HIMP program” already run incredibly fast, with some slaughtering over 1,000 pigs per hour.

USDA inspectors and animal welfare investigations have revealed horrendous animal welfare abuses and food safety oversights on pig slaughter lines operating at HIMP speeds, as covered recently by the Washington Post. These include pigs remaining conscious while being hung upside down and having their throats cut. However, despite all of this, USDA’s plan to broaden HIMP would allow this nightmare scenario to become the norm. As the congressional letter to USDA states, “it appears that the [USDA] has not given adequate consideration to the welfare of the millions of hogs slaughtered annually. Rapid lines speeds present one of the greatest risks of inhumane treatment […].”

The ASPCA will continue to work with Congress and other stakeholder groups to encourage USDA to reconsider this ill-conceived move. Please stay tuned for updates, and if you’re not already a member, be sure to join our Advocacy Brigade to be alerted when there are opportunities to take action!