I am very pleased to report that our livestock production subsidiary, Murphy-Brown LLC, has made major progress toward the conversion from individual gestation stalls to group housing arrangements for pregnant sows on company farms.
While the conversion slowed during the recent recession due to significant operating losses, Smithfield announced at the September 2010 shareholders meeting that significant resources had again been committed to the conversion. We also resolved to announce our progress on a regular basis.
We are now confident that by December 31, 2011, we will have completed conversions for 30 percent of the sows on our farms, which was our target for this year.
Smithfield was the first major producer in our industry (which includes over 60,000 producers) to publicly commit to converting sow housing to group pens and remains the only large producer to do so. We will continue the conversion as planned with the goal of completing conversion for all sows on company farms by the end of 2017, and today we are on course to achieve that goal. While we initially had concerns during the recession about whether we could meet the 2017 goal, we are now back on track and barring unforeseen circumstances beyond our control we are confident that we will achieve our stated goal.