Aaron Miller of Miller Livestock in Kinsman, Ohio. Bon Appétit buys half of all his hogs. (Photo by Sarah Piper.)

Last week, McDonald’s announced it was making a move to end the use of gestation crates — the especially despicable practice of confining pregnant sows in spaces roughly the width of their bodies. By May, their announcement read, they’ve requested concrete plans from their producers to phase out the practice.

In other words, the company managed to make a splash in the news without committing to a timeline. Of course, one of McDonald’s biggest suppliers, Smithfield Foods, is supposedly four years into a 10-year process to phase out gestation crates by 2017 –- but it’s hard to know how much stock to put into their pledge considering the complaint filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) with the Securities and Exchange Commission in November alleging that Smithfield has been making false and misleading claims about their practices.