ASPCA Commends Vermont Legislature for Making State the First to Enable Funding for Farmers Seeking Animal Welfare Certification

Agricultural Development Bill establishes grant access for higher-welfare farmers to support growing demand for certified products
June 21, 2019

NEW YORK – The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and supporters of a more humane, transparent food system applaud the Vermont Legislature for passing bill S.160, making Vermont the first state to enact legislation that enables funding for more humane farming. This fall, Vermont farmers will be able to apply for grants allocated by the Working Lands Enterprise Board to help achieve an independent animal welfare certification or expand the capacity of an existing welfare-certified business to meet growing demand. Animal welfare certifications prohibit the most inhumane practices used on many industrial farms while ensuring that animals are able to carry out their natural behaviors, verified by regular on-farm, third-party audits.

“Independent welfare certifications offer the accountability that animals deserve and consumers are demanding, said Bill Ketzer, senior director of state legislation for the ASPCA, Northeast region. “The ASPCA encourages other states to take Vermont’s lead and make their own commitments to supporting more humane local farmers.”  

The demand for welfare-certified products is growing, with restaurants, retailers, and institutions nationwide making commitments to responsible food sourcing, and Vermont farmers are uniquely positioned to meet regional demand across state borders. The Boston City Council recently voted unanimously to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP), which mandates the procurement of food that meets higher animal welfare standards on an institutional level.

“Vermont’s decision ensures that farms looking to meet the growing demand for animal welfare-certified products have a chance to receive state support in their endeavors,” said Kara Shannon, senior manager, ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Department. “We’ve been working with community members and legislators for the past two years to make this law a reality. While there’s still a lot of work we can do to support more humane farming across the country, the passage of S.160 ensures that Vermont will be at the forefront.”

Access to state funding will allow more Vermont farmers to effectively communicate how they're raising their animals within an increasingly accountable food system. Animal welfare certification labels make it easy for shoppers to identify higher welfare options and help farmers reach customers across the region, all while improving the lives of farm animals. The ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program was launched in 2016 to inform consumers, food companies, and lawmakers about solutions that will improve the lives of the nearly 10 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. each year. The program is dedicated to informing consumers about meaningfully better options in the marketplace, including those bearing animal welfare certifications Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane®, Global Animal Partnership, and plant-based products.  

“As welfare-certified livestock farmers, we are very proud to live in the first state to prioritize the welfare of its farm animals and economic viability of higher welfare farming,” said Bob Fireovid of Health Hero Farm. “At a time when more and more consumers base their purchasing decisions on ethical and environmental considerations, this legislation creates a unique opportunity for Vermont agriculture to lead the way in providing more humane food locally and beyond.”

In partnership with Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, the ASPCA has created a Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide as part of this initiative, which helps farmers understand the value of certification programs and determine which option might be right for them. The ASPCA also underwrites Farm Animal Concerns Trust’s Animal Welfare Certification and Capacity Building Fund-a-Farmer grants on an annual basis.

To learn more about the ASPCA’s work to build a more humane food system visit