Nearly 40,000 animal advocates have come together from across the US to oppose the USDA's new high-speed pig slaughter program plan.
The campaigners, who were united by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [ASPCA], say the New Swine Inspection System [NSIS] would put animals at risk of further suffering.
Under the plans, pig slaughterhouses could kill animals at any speed deemed safe for food safety 'process control' - opening up opportunities for welfare abuses.
Under these proposals, up to 1,500 pigs could be slaughtered per hour - up from 1,100 currently.
According to the ASPCA: "With faster speeds come increased chances for rough animal handling, as employees are pressured to quickly move pigs weighing hundreds of pounds each. Line speed increases can also result in improper stunning. Workers may have too little time to properly stun animals; to detect signs of consciousness once stunning has been attempted; or to re-stun animals as needed, possibly resulting in pigs being slaughtered while conscious."
In addition, under the plans the food safety responsibilities of federal inspectors would be handed over to private slaughter plant employees - which has led to fears of standards being lowered.
Undercover footage shows the grim reality of high speed slaughter
According to the ASPCA, a public comment period opened by the USDA has garnered nearly 40,000 opposition messages from its supporters. Official comments were submitted by organization, as well as fellow campaign group Compassion Over Killing [COK].
Suzanne McMillan, Content Director - Farm Animal Welfare Campaign, said: "The New Swine Inspection System proposal is yet another misguided attempt at privatization of slaughter to the great detriment of animal welfare, worker safety and food safety.
"We urge the USDA to consider the potentially disastrous consequences if this rule were enacted and heed the calls to withdraw it completely."