A couple of animals rights activists demonstrated outside Walmart on 7th Street in Joplin. They say suppliers for the national store chain are abusing animals by confining pregnant sows to small gestation crates for most of their lives.
Demonstrators say undercover cameras have supported their claims.
Tuesday's event prompted some customers to think twice about animal cruelty claims.
There was also a 10 foot tall inflatable pig near the demonstration.
"This is blatant animals abuse that we don't think Walmart should be supporting - these crates are so cruel that they've actually been banned in nine U.S. states and the entire European Union, yet Walmart continues to sell pork from factory farms that use them," says Phil Letten of Mercy for Animals. "People decide to eat meat, whether it's pigs or cows or chickens or whatever - if people were to actually look at how the whole process takes place, they might become vegetarians, you know."
Walmart spokesperson Danit Marquardt released the following statement regarding the demonstration:
"This is a complicated issue. We're listening closely to points of view from farmers, food manufacturers, animal rights organizations, customers and others. We think constructive dialogue and a collaborative approach is the right path to the right solution.
"We hold our suppliers to the highest standards and do not tolerate animal mistreatment.
"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."
"We're just calling on Walmart to follow the lead of Costco, Kroger, Safeway, and its competitors to do away with these cruel crates," says Letten. "A lot of times you go into the supermarket and you buy your meat under plastic, and you're really not involved in the whole process. The butchering, the dressing, the cutting up, the slaughtering. It's probably a pretty gruesome process."