President Wayne Pacelle acknowledged he has a remote chance of being elected to the board of the Springdale, Ark.-based company, but he said he would add a valuable perspective to Tyson if his campaign is successful.
"It's one thing to be on the outside and asking for animal welfare concerns to be elevated within in the company," Pacelle told The Associated Press. "It's another thing to try to do it from the inside."
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company is committed to humane animal treatment and expects the same from farmers who supply it with chickens, hogs and cattle.
"We're not surprised Wayne Pacelle wants to sit on our board," Mickelson said in an email.
Mickelson added that the company is handling its nomination process according to the law and the company's bylaws.
The Humane Society of the United States said it owns stock in Tyson Foods and has urged the company to revamp its policies.
A number of fast-food companies and grocers have pledged to move away from buying pork from pigs raised in the cages, known as gestation crates.
"Tyson Foods is a major outlier in this debate," Pacelle said, adding that he would urge the company to commit to a timeframe to phase out the use of gestation crates.
He said that if he makes it to the board, he could help Tyson align its practices with what consumers want.
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