Humane Farm Animal Care has an interesting approach to promoting what it sees as the humane treatment of farm animals. It has begun a labelling program for meat, poultry, dairy and egg producers who meet its criteria for raising farm animals under humane conditions.
The program works like this — farmers who want their products to receive the “Certified Humane Raised & Handled” pay a royalty free, such as 50 centers per pig, as well as pay for annual inspections at $400/day of their procedures. The group also pays the U.S. Department of Agriculture to check documents filed by farmers to ensure the group is actually meeting its standards.
And what are those standards. According to the group’s web site,
The Animal Care Standards require that livestock have access to clean and sufficient food and water; that their environment is not dangerous to their health; that they have sufficient protection from weather elements; that they have sufficient space allowance in order for them to move naturally; and other features to ensure the safety, health and comfort of the animal. In addition, the standards require that managers and caretakers be thoroughly trained, skilled and competent in animal husbandry and welfare, and have good working knowledge of their system and the livestock in their care.
For processors, the standards require that American Meat Institute Standards are adhered to, which are generally more stringent than slaughter standards from the Federal Humane Slaughter Act.
A number of groups are supporting Humane Farm Animal Care’s labelling program, including American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; The Humane Society of the United States; Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Animal People; Dubuque (Iowa) Humane Society; Hawaiian Humane Society; Humane Society of Carroll County (Maryland); Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County (Florida); SPCA Erie County, NY; and, SPCA LA.
So far the group has certified five producers that meet its requirements.
Kara Flynn of the National Pork Producers Council was quoted in an Associated Press story as saying that the program was part of “an anti-meat agenda.” According to Flynn,
It’s saying if you don’t adhere to this, you’re going to be seen as someone who’s not rearing or treating animals humanely, and that’s false.
Flynn’s concerns seem a bit overblown. If a private group wants to define a more stringent definition of “humane” treatment of animals and arrange to label the meat that comes from such producers as “Certified Humane” more power to them. I doubt there will be a big demand for meat labelled in this way, but so long as they are not trying to force it down producer’s throats through regulation or taking the ALF route and terrorizing those farmers they disagree with, I don’t see what Flynn’s so upset about.
New labels give ‘Humane’ Seal of Approval. Associated Press, May 23, 2003.
?Certified Humane? Food Label Unveiled. Press Release, Humane Farm Animal Care, May 22, 2003.
Certified Humane Certification Program
Frequently Asked Questions. Humane Farm Animal Care, Accessed: June 24, 2003.