Last Tuesday the ASPCA’s farm animal welfare campaign testified to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the committee that advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on its Organic rules.
The ASPCA asked the Board to examine the problem of fast, unhealthy growth among USDA Organic birds raised for meat (“broiler” chickens and turkeys). Like conventionally raised birds, most organic birds are bred for unsustainable growth that causes massive suffering (including difficulty standing and walking). You can read more on our Truth About Chicken website, which shines a spotlight on these horrendous and largely hidden problems.
The USDA looks to the NOSB for suggestions on how to improve to its rules, so it is critical that the NOSB encourages the USDA to restrict the use of fast-growing, unhealthy birds.
In the coming months, we will need your help in urging the NOSB to act. If you join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, we will let you know as soon as those opportunities arise. In the meantime, please spread the word about the need for better standards for USDA Organic animals!
Yesterday Tyson Foods, Inc. announced that it will phase out the practice of feeding antibiotics to the broiler chickens it produces when those antibiotics are also used for human medicine. Tyson joins other companies including Perdue, McDonald's, and Chick-fil-A that have recently made similar statements.
While it is great that companies are responding to consumer concerns about the very real public health issue of drug resistance, removing antibiotics without improving living conditions on farms is like taking off a bandage and leaving an open wound exposed.
Chicken companies have relied on antibiotics to counteract the disease that runs rampant in today’s crowded, filthy industrial farms. Bred to grow four times as fast as chickens grew 60 years ago, today’s chickens have weak immune systems, suffer from high rates of lameness and often spend most of their lives lying in their own waste. Removing antibiotics without addressing these animal welfare issues leaves animals vulnerable to disease and could increase consumers’ exposure to foodborne bacteria.
That is why the ASPCA has joined the Center for Food Safety to call on the chicken industry to fulfill its responsibility to consumers and animals by providing more space, better sanitation and lower stress for birds in tandem with this reduction of antibiotics. Consumers are demanding not just safer products but higher animal welfare on industrial farms, and the two are inextricably linked. If you want to demand more humanely raised chicken where you shop, fill out our supermarket request card today!
Do you wonder what happens on the farms that produce your food? Do you believe you have a right to know how animals raised for food are treated?
In the last few years, the farm industry has been driving the introduction of "ag-gag" or “whistleblower suppression” bills in state legislatures across the country. The purpose of these bills is to criminalize acts related to investigating the day-to-day activities of industrial farms, including the recording, possession or distribution of photos, video and/or audio at a farm. Such investigations have previously formed the basis of animal cruelty prosecutions and spurred reforms to protect the safety of our food supply.
If you want to know how ag-gag laws affect animals and consumers like you, join us and our panel of experts for our #OpenTheBarns Twitter chat on Thursday, April 23 from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. ET to have your questions answered. Just follow the hashtag #OpenTheBarns and include it in your tweeted questions to have them answered!
Daisy Freund, Sr. Manager, Farm Animal Welfare, ASPCA Kendra Kimbirauskas, Chief Executive Officer, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project Cody Carlson, former undercover investigator, Humane Society of the United States & Mercy for Animals Patty Lovera, Assistant Director, Food and Water Watch
We’ll be discussing the dangers of ag-gag laws, how they impact animals and consumers alike, as well as what you can do to stop them in your state!
At the ASPCA, we believe that all animals deserve to be protected under the law—and we’re thrilled to announce that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey agrees!
In a strong message to the industrial agriculture lobby, Governor Ducey issued his first-ever veto on H.B. 2150, a dangerous bill intended to roll back protections for farm animals—which, in Arizona, includes horses—by removing them from the state’s cruelty code and placing them in a separate section of law with weaker protections. If enacted, this bill would have also stripped municipalities of their abilities to pass stronger animal welfare and food safety standards, and could have impeded law enforcement from investigating animal abuse.
The veto comes at the heels of the ASPCA’s recently launched #OpenTheBarns campaign, a rallying cry for advocates to share their reasons to “open the barns” and protect the public’s right to know what is happening on America’s farms.
The ASPCA thanks Governor Ducey for honoring his commitment to animal welfare and standing with Arizona’s citizens by affirming that every animal deserves protection.
If you’re an Arizona resident, please call Governor Ducey’s office in Phoenix at (602) 542-4331 or visit our Advocacy Center to thank him for vetoing this bill.
Not an Arizona resident? Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to get important updates on animal-welfare-related legislation and how you can make a difference for the animals in your state.
As Big Ag continues its efforts to conceal the truth about how animals suffer on factory farms, the ASPCA and advocates continue our counterattack to protect the public’s right to know what goes on there.
"Ag-gag" bills, conceived and pushed by the agricultural industry to criminalize undercover investigations on factory farms, have been introduced in nearly half of all U.S. states. These measures are intended to silence factory farm whistleblowers—removing protection from vulnerable animals who need it and giving it to powerful corporations who hide behind it.
Last week, we launched #OpenTheBarns, a rallying cry of advocates representing interests as diverse as animal welfare, food safety, workers’ rights, environmental protection, and civil liberties.
On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media avenues, groups like Food and Water Watch, the Government Accountability Project, the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, and the National Consumers League are sharing their reasons to #OpenTheBarns.
Because food workers fill our plates, and they deserve a voice #OpenTheBarns
Even some farmers are part of the movement, because those who have nothing to fear have nothing to hide. They include Maryland’s Carole Morison, the whistle-blowing chicken farmer who was featured in the documentary Food Inc.; Georgia farmer and American Grassfed Alliance vice president Will Harris; and Oregon farmer and Socially Responsible Agriculture CEO Kendra Kimbiraskas.
Average Americans are also speaking their minds, because these issues matter to them. In a 2012 poll, 94 percent of the American public agreed that "from every step of their lives on a farm, farm animals should be treated in a way that inflicts the least amount of pain and suffering possible." In the same poll, 71 percent of American adults said they support undercover investigative efforts to expose farm animal abuse on industrial farms, and 64 percent opposed making such investigations illegal.
In a 2014 poll, 81 percent of consumers said that chickens—the farm animals most often raised for food—should be humanely raised. That alone covers 9 billion animals.
Celebrities and Members of Congress are also adding their voices to the dialogue, including Portia de Rossi, Martha Stewart, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
One reason this alliance is so large is that animal abuse isn’t the only unethical activity Big Ag is trying to keep secret. Documented investigations of factory farms have revealed unsafe conditions that endanger workers, shoddy food safety practices that put consumers at risk, and practices that ravage our environment. Ag-gag legislation can even shield puppy mills, which can fall under the category of “agricultural activity” in some states.
Whistleblower revelations play an important part in reforming corrupt institutions. Decades of undercover investigations—the very kind these ag-gag laws are trying to suppress—have led directly to critical milestones including the passage of the federal Meat Inspection Act, the Pure Food and Drug Act, and the eventual establishment of the federal Food and Drug Administration. They have also led to reform in corporate practices and criminal liability.
A broad coalition of advocates, including the ASPCA, has helped defeat more than two dozen ag-gag bills to date. Despite this, Big Ag is showing no signs of letting up. There’s just too much money to be made.
In the first few months of the 2015 legislative session, ag-gag laws have been introduced in nine states, most recently North Carolina, where ag-gag proponents are making their third try in three years.
We have to keep fighting these laws and exposing their motives, for the welfare of the animals, but also for our right to know the ultimate price truly being paid for the food on our plates.
So please add your own voice to the #OpenTheBarns campaign, and tell the agricultural industry that animal cruelty—anywhere, for any reason—demands sunlight, not secrecy.