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August 2, 2013

Alberta-Farm-Girl-Turned-Hollywood-Lead-Actress, Tricia Helfer, Urges Animal Welfare Reforms in Canadian Pork Industry

Canada’s Next Top Model host, Battlestar Galactica star sticks up for pigs

Humane Society International/Canada

  • We're making progress in our campaign to end the use of gestation crates. HSI

Tricia Helfer—known as the host of Canada’s Next Top Model and from her starring role on Battlestar Galactica and soon set to star as the lead in the new series Killer Women —has penned a letter to Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Coalition urging reforms in its recently-released draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs.

Helfer applauds NFAAC for working toward much-needed animal welfare reforms while urging the agency to close a loophole in its draft codes that would codify the current standard practice in pork production of confining breeding pigs in tiny cages—called “gestation crates”—for many weeks at a time, unable to even turn around.

Live in Canada? Now is the time to speak out for pigs!

“[M]ost people might not know that I grew up an Alberta farm girl—getting my hands dirty, riding tractors, fixing machinery and more,” writes Helfer in her letter. “I still often return to my family’s farm to pitch in, and am as comfortable in the field as I am on the red carpet...To me, as with most caring Canadians, there’s virtually no more abusive or neglectful way to treat an animal than to lock her in a cage and let her linger, day and night for huge lengths of time, unable to even turn around. This is why I was so heartened to read that NFACC is working to move the Canadian pork industry away from tiny gestation crates for breeding pigs.” Sayara Thurston, campaigner for HSI/Canada said: “We applaud NFACC and Canadian producers for the work they have done to improve conditions for mother pigs. However, we urge them to take further steps and to take this opportunity to make the Canadian pork industry a global leader in animal welfare by including a full phase out of gestation crate confinement in the final Code of Practice.”

Gestation crates have come under fire from veterinarians, family farmers, animal welfare advocates, legislators, scientists, consumers and food retailers. A recent national poll in Canada showed that 84 percent of Canadians support a complete phase out of the use of these confinement systems.

In April, the Retail Council of Canada and eight of Canada’s largest retailers—Walmart Canada, Costco Canada, Safeway Canada, Loblaw, Metro, Federated Co-operatives, Sobeys and Co-op Atlantic—committed to sourcing fresh pork products from alternatives to gestation crates over the next nine years. Two of the three largest pork producers in Canada—Olymel and Maple Leaf Foods—have already announced that they will shift away from gestation crates within the next four-to-nine years. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, also announced a similar policy within the next four years.


  • Nine U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to ban the continual gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
  • More than 50 of North America’s largest pork buyers, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Tim Hortons have made commitments eliminating gestation crates from their supply chains within the next two-to-nine years. Meanwhile, many family farmers have been raising pigs without the use of gestation crates for generations.


Media Contact: Sayara Thurston, HSI/Canada: 514.395.2914/514.691.6086; sthurston@hsi.org

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation, farm animal welfare and animals in research. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International which, together with its partners, constitutes one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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