TONIGHT: Mostly cloudy. Low: 20. Winds: Light Northwest.
THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy with a chance of light snow in the morning. High: 31. Winds: North 5-10 mph.
Storm Team 20 Chief Meteorologist
Protestors Target Wal-Mart Over Conditions at Pork Suppliers
Around a half dozen central Illinois residents joined the national organization Mercy for Animals in protesting outside the Wal-Mart near South 6th Street in Springfield today.
"I think it's wrong the way we treat animals in this country in factory farms, " Springfield resident Betsy Calvin said. "And I agree with these people 100 percent"
The goal of the protests is to push Wal-Mart into only buying pork products from farms that don't use gestation stalls.
"At numerous Wal-Mart pork suppliers, we documented pregnant pigs confined to filthy metal crates, that are so small the animals can't even turn around," Mercy for Animals National Campaign Coordinator Phil Letten said. "And they're virtually immobilized for nearly their entire lives."
But many pork producers describe the stalls as a way to provide individualized and better care to their pregnant sows.
"Sometimes when sows are in group settings they will fight, and that creates problems," Tim Maiers of the Illinois Pork Producers Association said. "So these sows are pregnant when they're in these. And we're trying to maintain the health of these and to care for the piglets that they'll have later, so it really is geared to taking care of that sow and making sure that she has the best care that she can on the farm."
Perhaps the biggest question for the protesters is whether they are getting their message across to shoppers.
"There's just too much cruelty that way," shopper Janet Kerner said. "There's other ways to handle having beef and pork products. You don't have to cram then in to cages like that."
"I don't know, because I haven't read the literature," Donna Showalter said. "So I'll have to look at the website and their literature and then decide that, but I do like pork."
Another shopper who didn't wish to be identified said, "It makes me upset that they don't have something better to do, like save children or all this different things like that."
We also spoke with a representative from Wal-Mart. She told us:
"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."
Visit our WebWatch section for more information from both sides of the debate.
Reporting in Springfield, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.