November 16, 2017

Big Day for Farm Animals! Rep. Blumenauer Prioritizes Animal Welfare in New Food and Farm Act

Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Food and Farm Act, legislation that seeks to address some of the biggest problems in the current Farm Bill while also taking animal welfare, health and the environment into account.    

Nearly 10 billion farm animals are raised each year in the United States, the majority on factory farms that prioritize profit and efficiency over animal welfare. The current Farm Bill props up factory farms and Big Ag by subsidizing their operations instead of supporting sustainable, higher welfare farms. The ASPCA endorses several provisions in the Food and Farm Act that seek to codify animal welfare standards under the USDA Organic program as well as provide much-needed support and guidance for farmers seeking and maintaining meaningful animal welfare certifications.

“For decades the Farm Bill has ignored vital animal welfare needs and incentivized a callous industrial agriculture model that has brought unnecessary suffering on billions of farm animals,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO, ASPCA. “The ASPCA commends Congressman Blumenauer for envisioning not only a better Farm Bill, but also a better food system in the United States. For the sake of vulnerable farm animals and on behalf of responsible farmers and conscientious consumers, we encourage Congress to include the more humane measures outlined in the Food and Farm Act while drafting the next Farm Bill.” 

The ASPCA supports a number of specific Food and Farm Act provisions, including: 

  • Implementing the USDA’s final rule for Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices which requires outdoor access for egg-laying hens and all other farm animals, establishes indoor and outdoor space requirements for chickens, and institutes other crucial welfare standards. Unfortunately, the USDA continues to delay the rule’s implementation.
  • Establishing research and extension priorities to help increase the number of livestock and poultry producers enrolled in animal welfare certification programs.
  • Establishing a cost-share program to help producers of livestock and poultry products obtain and maintain animal welfare certifications.
  • Designating grazing and pasture-based farming as a qualifying production system under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to open up more funding for higher welfare farms.

Federal policies like the Farm Bill have the potential to impact the lives of millions of farm animals, but our everyday consumer choices can make a big difference, too. Pledge to Shop With Your Heart to find out how your choices can help farm animals. 

To stay up-to-date on the ASPCA’s efforts to protect farm animals and be alerted when farm animals need your help, please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today.