2023: A Year of Progress for Farm Animals

December 13, 2023

a small pig in grass

2023 has been full of exciting progress in our work to protect farm animals. With new, creative and responsive strategies, we advanced our fight for a more humane food system. Our work is only possible thanks to you and others who also care about creating a more compassionate and ethical food system. 

Read about some of the highlights you were a part of this year:

Changing the Market: New and Expanded Tools for Welfare-Conscious Shoppers

Our first annual Supermarket Scorecard evaluated the 20 largest grocery store chains in the U.S. on their policies to address critical farm animal welfare issues. Our interactive tool allows people to see exactly how their stores score on policymaking and progress-reporting for chickens raised for meat, hens used for eggs and mother pigs. Removing the worst forms of factory farming from store shelves is not only the right thing to do—it’s also essential for socially aware businesses! Ninety-one percent of Americans agree [PDF] that both the environment and the humane treatment of farm animals should be a part of corporate sustainability programs. The Scorecard is part of the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program, which connects shoppers with higher-welfare brands and products.

This year, we made finding higher-welfare food easier than ever, as over 50 brands joined the Shop With Your Heart program and an additional 123 new products were added to our Grocery List. Even more: the use of a higher-welfare chicken breed was supported by two new food businesses this year (Whole Foods Market and Campfire Treats), a huge step toward the transition toward more humane farming.

Building a More Humane Pet Food Industry for the Good of All Animals

A 2023 national survey found that an impressive 87% of people who shop for pet food would be likely to switch to another brand of pet food if they knew the brand sourced from more-humane farms. Armed with this knowledge, we launched the Higher Welfare Pet Food Initiative—a resource for pet parents to find progressive pet food brands that are animal welfare-certified or are working with the ASPCA to develop sourcing policies and standards that improve the lives of farmed animals.

This initiative launched with commitments from 10 pet food brands and a pet food trade organization. These industry-leading pledges will improve the lives of millions of farmed animals.

Driving Public Policy That Supports More Humane Farming

Much of our work this year has focused on making a better world for farm animals through the federal Farm Bill—a large legislative package that identifies national agricultural priorities for the next five years. We were fighting for farm animals every step of the way. We set the stage early in the year by launching our Farm Bill policy platform [PDF], laying out a roadmap to ensure the Farm Bill helps support more humane farming systems while also increasing accountability for industrial animal agriculture. The very next month we helped organize the Food Not Feed Summitin Washington, D.C., bringing together a diverse coalition of groups to demand action from Congress. This was followed in May by our first-ever farm tour for key congressional staffers, allowing them to see and hear directly from local farmers raising animals on pasture in higher-welfare systems while tying these types of practices directly to Farm Bill policies that would support animal welfare.

Together, we celebrated a huge victory when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld California’s Prop 12 banning extreme confinement of farm animals, shutting down a challenge by industry trade groups. The ASPCA submitted an amicus brief in support of Prop 12 urging the Supreme Court to uphold the proposition, and justices referred to many of the brief’s points during oral arguments. In response to this victory, those in Congress allied with the factory farm industry offered up the dangerous Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act. Without missing a beat, we teamed up with farmers, environmental groups and others to launch the Defeat EATS campaign to keep the EATS Act out of the Farm Bill.

While work on crafting the Farm Bill is going to carry over into 2024, we still celebrated one last policy victory this year! After more than a decade of engagement by us and others, and over 100,000 comments from ASPCA supporters, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized the long-overdue Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) rule to require stronger welfare standards and meaningful outdoor access for animals raised under the “USDA Organic” program. These stronger standards are estimated to improve the lives of the more than 60 million animals who live on organic farms!

ASPCA advocates and supporters like you were busy at home too. We saw state policy victories across the country, including:

Joining our Advocacy Brigade is the best way to stay up to date on how you can support farm animals in your state—sign up today!

Providing Grants to Invest in a More Humane Food System

In addition to consumer education, corporate outreach and policymaking, grant funding is a powerful way that we are working to achieve our broader goal of ending factory farming. The ASPCA Fund to End Factory Farming is an annual grant fund seeking innovative approaches to revealing and solving the factory farm crisis. This year we announced six organizational grant recipients, who together received over $200,000.

We also partnered with the Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) to underwrite 18 Fund-A-Farmer Grants to farmers who want to obtain or who already hold a meaningful animal-welfare certification. This annual support brings the number of ASPCA-supported farms through FACT to 111 since 2017, improving the lives of over 100,000 farm animals. Providing these grants is an important part of our efforts to build a more humane farming system as an alternative to cruel and unsustainable factory farming. 

We supported two programs dedicated to helping former factory farmers find new direction and livelihoods: 

  1. Transfarmation is a program of Mercy for Animals that helps farmers transition their industrial animal-agriculture operations to farms raising crops or other goods for human usage.
  2. The Socially Responsible Agriculture Project recently launched a Contract Grower Transition program, which is helping growers exit the factory farming system and publicize their stories to prevent others from becoming trapped in the broken, unsustainable, and exploitative system.

This work is only possible thanks to you!

We are thrilled that we’ve been able to accomplish so much over the past year, but we know that it wouldn’t have been possible without your help. We look forward to many more opportunities to work together to improve the lives of farm animals and build a more just and compassionate food system. 

Wondering what you can do to help end factory farming? Join our Factory Farming Task Force!