“Prolonged or uncorrected periods of disease and stress are inhumane, compromise animal health and well-being, greatly decrease efficiency, and result in an unsustainable system. These factors are clearly undesirable for the animal, the producer and society.” -Minnesota State study on animal agriculture
Historically, consumers have sought to pay the minimum for food, making food a commodity where the supplier with the lowest cost wins. Producers reduce cost by keeping more animals in less space and employing any technique that maximizes growth rates. The industrialization and consolidation of animal agriculture have created “factory farms” with massive scale, unnatural husbandry practices and severe externalities including food safety problems, environmental degradation, loss of smaller farms, and animal mistreatment.
Over 10 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. annually endure inhumane treatment. Most are confined such that they can’t behave normally. Chickens can’t flap their wings or move. Pigs can’t turn around. Crowding and stress from these conditions compromise animals’ immune systems. They must ingest antibiotics regularly to prevent disease. These “factory farms” use the technology and production methods of the assembly line to raise animals for food. To profit, they keep more animals in less space and employ techniques to maximize growth rates. The current system of factory farms causes problems for the people involved, the environment, and consumers, as well as for the animals.
The impact extends beyond the animals:
- Overuse of antibiotics in animals is causing more strains of drug-resistant bacteria. The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences estimated the annual cost of treating antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. at $30 billion.
- In 1998 farmers earned an average of only $7,000 per year from their farming operations. 88% of the average farmer’s income comes from off-the-farm sources.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency blames current farming practices for 70% of the pollution in the nation's rivers and streams. Source: Global Resources Action Center for the Environment (GRACE)
Although leading nonprofits and major animal protection organizations, are advancing legislative and legal means to control intensive confinement production practices, the legal and legislative process is very slow to change these conditions.
In 1998, Adele Douglass, now the Executive Director of Humane Farm Animal Care, creator of the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® program had a vision that the fastest way to change these practices was through a market places solution. Douglass worked on a project supported by the Fund for Rural America to explore worker safety, environmental protection and animal care issues in hog farming. She traveled t the U.K. to visit farms using more humane practices. She also met with representatives of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and learned about their success with the Freedom Foods program, expanding the market for meat, poultry, egg and dairy from animals raised to humane care standards. Freedom Foods was a competitor in the market place by purchasing animals from farms that raised the animals to humane standards created by the RSPCA and sold under the Freedom Foods brand.
As a veteran lobbyist and former congressional staff member, Ms. Douglass knew the limitations of the legislative process. She immediately saw how a certification and labeling program, that would be available to all producers would enable consumers to vote with their wallets for more humane production practices. She has been working ever since to make that vision a reality. First by launching the “Free Farmed” program as Executive Director of Farm Animal Services and now by building and managing the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® program as Founder and Executive Director of Humane Farm Animal Care.
Humane Farm Animal Care is a 501c3 non-profit organization supported by grants from foundations, and donations – click here to donate to HFAC.
Our program is endorsed by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and many other local and regional humane organizations Click here to see the complete list: HUMANE ORGANIZATIONS
Our mission is to improve the lives of farm animals by providing viable, credible, duly monitored standards for humane food production; and to ensure consumers that certified products meet these standards.
Consumers can now choose products from farmers who pursue animal friendly, sustainable farming methods by looking for the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label on products.
Click here to learn more about “What is the Certified Humane Raised and Handled Label?”