Developments in Farm Animal Welfare in the U.S. Cathy Liss, President, Animal Welfare Institute Market-Driven Animal Welfare in the EU and the U.S. March 22, 2012
About the Animal Welfare Institute• Non-profit US charity founded in 1951• Mission to alleviate suffering inflicted on animals by humans• Seeks humane husbandry, handling, transport and slaughter for all animals raised for food.• Engages with policymakers, scientists, industry and the public• Has focused on farm animal welfare dating back to its work on humane slaughter in the early 1950s
AWI’s high welfare farm animal standards• In 1989, AWI developed Humane Husbandry Standards for Pigs and the first “USDA-Approved” label placed on pork from animals raised to AWI’s standards.• Animal Welfare Approved is launched in 2006. It is a high welfare, pasture or range-based program. AWA requires that its farmers have individual ownership and control of their animals.
Animal Welfare ApprovedCarries out the following activities: • Auditing and compliance • Market support • Supply chain work • Grants and grant support.Has standards for 14 types of livestock, plusslaughter standardsWorks with 1500 farms in 45 states and Canada
Consumer AwarenessWelfare and protection of farm animals is important toconsumers and a strong consideration in buying food.Food industry trend watcher, the Hartman Group, citesgrass-fed meat, healthy fats, real butter, cage-free eggs,heirloom marbled pork, and the family dinner asgrowing trends in 2012.
Consumer Awareness• Concern about meat’s origins is growing….some shoppers are willing to pay two or three times as much to guarantee that the animals they eat had ample living space and sufficient time outdoors, were raised on organic or foraged food (or both), and were not fed antibiotics or growth hormones. ---Carolyn Dimitri, professor of food studies at New York University• According to a 2011 Kansas State University study consumers will likely pay up to 20% more for meat with a mandatory label showing that animals were raised without the use of cages and crates. Women and younger consumers indicated even higher demand for this labeling.
Consumer AwarenessMost consumers uninformed:•Believe only 37% of eggsproduced in the U.S. comefrom hens in cages (in fact>90% of eggs produced in cagesystems)•About 30% believe the porkthey buy comes from pastureor organic farming (actualamount is <5%)
Farm Animal Welfare in the USMainly market driven welfare criteriaLittle regulation underpinning farmed animalmanagementSingle issue state legislation may have a minimaleffect on overall animal welfare --welfare is multi-factorial --states that have enacted legislation tend to have smaller numbers of producersRetailers and companies are setting their ownagenda
State LawsState action includes:• Prohibition of gestation crates forpigs• Prohibition of cattle tail docking• Ban on foie gras• Regulation on hen housing• Prohibition on veal cratesSmall number of states in total
Federal LawsNo federal regulation of:•Humane slaughter for poultry•Transport times for poultry•Transport conditions (excepthorses)•On-farm husbandry practices
Regulatory Developments• National Organic Standards Board is drafting animal welfare regulations• Some states have set/are in the process of setting on-farm husbandry regulations (standards are very low, however)
Third Party InitiativesThere are animal welfarecertification programs withbirth to slaughterrequirements in the U.S.•Cover multiple species•About 40 millionanimals/year currentlyraised under theseprograms
Third Party InitiativesOther animal welfare-relatedfood labels exist•Not necessarily making a“humane” claim – but somestandards on welfare•About 300 million animals/yearraised under these programs•Some of the animal welfarerequirements are equivalent tostandard industry practice
Benefits of Third Party Initiatives• Reduce consumer confusion about animal rearing practices• Help consumers make more informed choices• Reward high-welfare farmers• Illustrate differences in welfare among farms and marketing programs
Negatives of Third Party Initiatives• Voluntary• Inconsistent• Can solely be used as marketing tools rather than improvement of welfare• Can be expensive for the farmer to participate• Claims can be meaningless• Not necessarily any independent oversight
Production Industry Initiatives• United Egg Producers modified guidelines to prohibit feed withdrawal for molting as of 2006• American Veal Association resolution recommending transition from veal crates to group housing by 2017
Individual Producer Initiatives• Mary’s Chicken and Bell & Evans chicken switched to controlled atmosphere stunning• Smithfield Foods says it will phase-out gestation crates by 2017• Hormel Foods says it will phase-out gestation crates by 2017 (for company-owned facilities)• Cargill reported it is 50% gestation crate free in 2012
Individual Retailer Initiatives• Numerous chain restaurants and several chain grocery stores have adopted animal welfare policies that set minimum standards for: – eggs from cage free hens – pork from group-housed sows – poultry meat from birds killed with controlled atmosphere stunning/killing• McDonald’s is requiring suppliers to produce plans to phase out gestation crates
Food Service Industry InitiativesCompass Group•Shell eggs now cage free•Pork from gestation crate systems phasedout by 2017Bon Appétit•Shell and liquid eggs to be cage free•Pork to be from group-housing only (nogestation crates)•No foie gras and no veal from crates
Labeling OversightAnimal raising claims made byaffidavit, and challenged by:•Lawsuits•Better Business Bureauadvertising complaints•Administrative agencypetitions
What’s Needed• Public education about conventional and higher- welfare production and the meaning of common marketing claims• Mandatory labeling of meat and dairy products• Meaningful regulatory definitions of common marketing claims• Independent welfare assessment of all raising protocols
A big thank you to theDelegation of the European Union and the European Institute