Major food companies operating in Oklahoma and throughout the country have implemented purchasing policies to only source pork from operations using sow group housing. This housing method permits sows to live outside of individual gestation stalls for at least the majority of their pregnancies. Due to this market demand, the pork industry has moved from virtually no sows living in groups to now roughly 40 percent of the industry and growing. Unfortunately for Oklahoma farmers, it’s the foreign mega-producers operating in the United States that are meeting this demand. As it stands, Seaboard Farms, Hanor, and other Oklahoma companies cannot sell to companies like McDonald’s, Sodexo, Burger King, Jack in the Box, and dozens more. The Oklahoma Rural Investment for Sow Farms Act (Senate) and the Pregnant Pigs Pilot Program (House) will help Oklahoma farmers compete against foreign-owned conglomerates by providing funds to modify existing or new housing to meet the sow group housing demands of the market.
Here's how it would work:
SB 66 would create a $47 million fund from which the Oklahoma Department of Commerce could allocate grants to farms for the renovation and improvement of breeding sow pig housing facilities. HB 2438 would create a $4 million revolving fund – also through the Department of Commerce – to create the Pregnant Pigs Pilot Program. In both bills, grantees would be required to pledge that all uses of gestation crates be phased out within three years of accepting funds. Grantees who go back on this promise would be required to repay all grant funds. Farms that make the conversion within one year of receiving funds would be eligible for additional rebates and incentives, and farms that already employ group, pasture-raised, hoop barns, or other certified humane housing methods would be eligible for tax credits.
Grants would not be given to:
Farms outside of Oklahoma;Foreign-owned farms;Farms owned by corporations outside of Oklahoma;Farms that will or plan to house sow pigs in gestation crates in other associated Oklahoma barns.
Please contact your state senator and state representative to let them know that you expect them to support HB 66
and HB 2438