January 9, 2017

Hot Off the Presses: New Guide for Farmers Seeking Welfare Certification

farm certification guide

As part of the ASPCA’s commitment to creating a more humane and transparent farming system, we partnered with Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems to create a unique new tool for farmers, the Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide. The guide is designed to help farmers raising animals—as well as food companies, restaurant owners and chefs sourcing animal products—understand the three most meaningful welfare certification programs: Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane® and Global Animal Partnership. The guide provides detailed comparisons of the standards and processes required by each program, presents six candid farmer case studies, and outlines the funding options available to farmers who are investing in animal welfare.

The release of this guide comes at a time when more and more farmers and food companies are seeking ways to address consumers’ concerns about inhumane factory farming practices. A 2016 ASPCA survey found that 77% of consumers are concerned about the welfare of farm animals and 74% are paying more attention to labels that pertain to how an animal was raised than they were five years ago.

Unfortunately, these same consumers are being bombarded daily by meaningless and unregulated claims on packages, like “naturally raised” or “humane,” which shockingly can still be used by companies that cage or intensively confine animals throughout their lives. With no federal laws regulating how farm animals are raised, welfare-conscious consumers are left guessing and animals are suffering the consequences. This lack of transparency in industrial animal agriculture also ultimately puts higher-welfare farmers at a disadvantage as they struggle to distinguish themselves in a crowded market.

“Welfare certifications play an important role in creating a more humane, transparent farming system by verifying better treatment of farm animals and giving farmers a way to directly connect with consumers,” says Kara Shannon, Manager of the ASPCA’s Farm Animal Welfare campaign. “We hope this guide will make it easier for farmers to understand the meaningful, third-party welfare certifications available in the marketplace and enable them to choose the certification program that is right for their farm and their animals.”

The Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide has been added to our growing list of resources for welfare-conscious producers, retailers and corporations. Consumers who are interested in making more welfare-conscious food choices can take the Shop With Your Heart pledge to receive shopping resources, including lists of welfare-certified brands, label guides and other ways to advocate for farm animals