Updated Guide Helps Farmers and Businesses Fund Animal Welfare Certification

As demand for welfare-certified animal products continues to increase rapidly, the ASPCA® and Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems release updated guide to navigating higher-welfare certifications
October 8, 2019

New York, N.Y.— Today the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) released an updated guide with new funding resources for farmers and businesses interested in pursuing animal welfare certification. According to recent research, the demand for products with meaningful welfare certifications has continued to rise at a steady pace as consumers become more concerned about inhumane factory farming practices.

The updated Welfare Certification Guide helps farmers and businesses compare independent certification programs and builds on an existing resource developed in 2017 to take an in-depth look at the most meaningful animal welfare certification programs in the United States: Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World, Certified Humane, and Global Animal Partnership (GAP).

“Animal welfare certifications are an essential tool to communicate more humane farming practices to discerning shoppers,” said Kara Shannon, Senior Manager, ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Department “As major food companies and institutions commit to offering higher welfare food, it’s critical that we help farmers access these markets and build a more humane, transparent food system.”

New resources in the updated Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide include:

  • Expanded funding section featuring grants from non-profit organizations and states, including the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative in Vermont, the first state to pass a law enabling funding for welfare-certified farming.
  • Overview of business benefits related to certification in response to increasing consumer demand, highlighted by significant institutional commitments to more humane sourcing, including the Good Food Purchasing Program.
  • Updated third-party certification standards with a side-by-side comparison detailing additions and updates to each certifying organization recognized by the ASPCA, as well as new sections covering dairy goat standards, slaughter inspection and certification processes for different business structures.
  • New case studies from certified farmers across the country including Consider Bardwell, Central Grazing Company, Teton Waters Ranch, and Rancho Llano Seco.

“This guide is for farmers and food producers seeking to understand what welfare-certified farming can look like,” said CAFS Director Laurie Beyranevand. “From a straightforward breakdown of the requirements, procedures, and costs of various certification programs, to real-life accounts of producers’ experiences, it can help those looking to transition production methods to meet growing consumer demands for humane practices and greater transparency.”

As institutional, corporate, retail and consumer demand continues to grow, the ASPCA hopes more states will prioritize funding to support farmers’ transition to welfare-certified systems. To date, only Vermont has passed legislation explicitly naming animal welfare certification projects as eligible for grant funding, though the updated Welfare Certification Guide attempts to identify all the existing state and federal resources available to farmers. To help farmers adopt welfare certifications and build capacity, the ASPCA is underwriting grants by the Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) for the fourth year in a row. For grant guidelines, eligibility requirements, and to apply online, livestock and poultry farmers can learn more by visiting www.foodanimalconcernstrust.org/grants.

The updated ASPCA/CAFS Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide for farmers and businesses can be accessed at aspca.org/certification.

ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare

The ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program was launched in 2016 to inform consumers, food businesses 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 Level 2+, and plant-based products. The ASPCA works with companies and brands to help shape their commitments to farm animal welfare and achieve certification while providing resources and funding to farmers seeking these certifications with the goal of increasing access to higher welfare options for the country’s growing base of conscientious consumers. The Shop With Your Heart Brand List currently features more than 100 animal welfare certified brands, as well as dozens of plant-based options.

About the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School supports scholars, practitioners, and students in producing innovative research and legal tools for use by the food and agriculture community. CAFS offers a comprehensive curriculum in food and agriculture for law and policy students in order to train advocates for sustainable local and regional food systems. For more information about the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, visit vermontlaw.edu/cafs or email [email protected].

About Vermont Law School

Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation’s most comprehensive environmental law program. VLS offers a juris doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; four master’s degrees—Master of Environmental Law and Policy, Master of Energy Regulation and Law, Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy, and Master of Arts in Restorative Justice; and four post-JD degrees—LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Food and Agriculture Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, and Center for Justice Reform. For more information, visit vermontlaw.edu, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.