Proper Animal Care Highlighted On Capitol Hill; More Humane Certification Advocated
Most Consumers Concerned About Farm Animal Welfare, Would Pay More For Humanely Raised Dairy Products, AHA Survey Finds
The American Humane Association, joined by farmers, leaders of organizations involved in food production, chefs and animal welfare pioneers, held a congressional briefing here late last week to urge consumers to set a “humane table” and to support humane farm practices.
“Despite their invaluable work of feeding the world, farmers often get criticism when things go wrong and too rarely get praise for when they do things right,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the
American Humane Association (AHA). “We must end abuse and discourage poor farming practices, but it is also important to praise those who get it right and encourage other farmers and ranchers to follow best practices.”
“America’s dairy farmers have a long history of providing excellent care to their dairy cattle. In addition to the moral imperative of quality animal care, healthy, well-treated cows are the key factor in the production of high quality milk upon which dairy farmers’ livelihoods depend,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the NMPF.
“Simply put, what’s good for cows is good for the farmers who milk those cows,” Mulhern added. “And this industry-wide commitment to proper animal health care provides millions of consumers with a safe, wholesome, high quality milk supply.”
NMPF has led the development since 2008 of an industry-wide dairy animal care program, Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM), which combines a comprehensive set of best practices with education, evaluation and third-party verification.
Attorney Michael A. Tenenbaum advocated for common-sense ethical solutions that work for animals and people, maintaining that humanely raised food should not be an elitist commodity, but available to all.
“There is a sea of competing voices on the issues of farm animal welfare,” Tenenbaum said. “But the wisest voices are those that advocate for common-sense ethical solutions.”
“It’s important to recognize that farm animal welfare is complex because how farm animals are raised impacts other important factors, such as food safety, the environment and costs,” said Kay Johnson Smith, president and CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “It’s not in the animals’, or the farmers’, best interest to make decisions about housing or space based on emotion, but rather on science and with a full understanding of how any change will impact these other important issues.”
To demonstrate American Humane Certified producers’ commitment to both animals and people, Red Barn Family Farms of Appleton, WI, along with Butterball and Eggland’s Best, made holiday donations to
The DC Central Kitchen. Red Barn Family Farms sent more than 1,000 individually wrapped Cheddar cheese sticks, Butterball contributed 150 whole turkeys, and Eggland’s Best sent over 5,000 eggs, all of which will feed hundreds of needy, local
Meanwhile, a new national survey of 5,900 consumers released by the American Humane Association found considerable support for the humane treatment of farm animals and humanely raised foods.
Specifically, AHA’s survey found, among other things:
• More than nine in 10 respondents (94.9 percent) are very concerned about farm animal welfare, up from 89 percent in the 2013 study.
• More than three-quarters (75.7 percent) stated that they were very willing to pay more for humanely raised dairy products, eggs and meat, up from 74 percent last year.
• For the second year in a row, in a ranking of the importance of food labels, “humanely raised” scored highest, followed by antibiotic free, natural and organic.
Impediments to consumers choosing humane products were also explored. While one-third of those surveyed (35.3 percent) said they did purchase humanely raised foods, more than half (54.6 percent) said they were either not available (35.6 percent) or too expensive (19 percent).
Almost one in 10 (9 percent) said they did not know the difference.
Nearly four in 10 (39.6 percent) said they are somewhat familiar with the American Humane Certified label, while 16.8 percent are very familiar with it, 14.1 percent have seen it once or twice, and 29.5 percent do not know what the label is.
Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association was the first US national humane organization. AHA says its American Humane Certified program is the first and largest independent, third-party humane farm animal welfare certification and audit program. For more information, visit www.americanhumane.org.