Animal Welfare Approved

Archive for April, 2011

Windswept Farm – Ulster, PA

By Animal Welfare Approved | April 27, 2011

Windswept Farm is proud to take the holistic approach to farming, going back to the way farming used to be and rotationally grazing the animals on pasture. Steven Semkowicz raises Animal Welfare Approved Angus beef cattle and Red Wattle hogs at Windswept Farm in Ulster, PA.

Following the Animal Welfare Approved standards and treating animals in the best way possible is a great way to start a farm. Happy animals give a good feeling to the whole farm. “We don’t want any animals to be suffering in any way. That’s why Animal Welfare Approved makes so much sense. “

Liberty Flat Farm – Greeneville, TN

By Animal Welfare Approved |

In 1969, Robert Tucker took over Liberty Flat Farm, a 100-year-old family farm in northeast Tennessee. Like his father and grandfather before him, Robert prides himself on breeding high-quality cattle that are easy to handle. He has been farming cattle his whole life, but was glad to move from a cow-calf operation—sending his cattle to a feedlot to finish their lives on a grain diet—to a system where he manages 90 Angus beef cattle outdoors on pasture from birth through slaughter, selecting breeding cattle that thrive on a grass and forage-based diet. This system means he can be sure the cattle are raised with their welfare—and the health of the animals, humans and the environment—in mind.

Earth Week 2011: Start with Your Next Meal

By Andrew Gunther | April 21, 2011

As we enter Earth Week 2011, millions of people across the U.S. and the world are looking for ways to minimize their impact on the environment. It might surprise you to know that one of the best places you can start is the food you eat. Did you know that at least 30 percent of our annual carbon footprint is made up of our daily food choices? Choosing the right food – such as Animal Welfare Approved meat and dairy products – is one of the most important, everyday activities that can reduce our individual environmental impact and help to improve the well-being of farm animals at the same time.

So, why not use this opportunity to reduce your consumption of unsustainable, low-welfare, intensively reared feedlot meat and dairy – and choose high-welfare, pasture-based meat and dairy products instead? Animal Welfare Approved’s online directory makes it easy to find AWA-certified farms and products in your area and to support sustainable farming. Pasture-based farming can bring real benefits to us all, not only through healthier products but by helping to protect the planet for future generations.

To the Rest of Us, a Cage is a Cage

By Andrew Gunther | April 14, 2011

A recent press release from the American Humane Association (AHA) on a “historic piece of legislation that will significantly improve animal welfare in commercial egg-laying chicken operations” has clearly captured the attention of hacks looking for a quick and easy story.

The AHA news release, which has now appeared ad verbatim across several news sites, trumpets the “ground-breaking vote” by the Washington state House of Representatives to introduce new legislation which will bring about “dramatic” animal welfare improvements. The AHA news release claims that this new legislation will “phase out the use of battery cage housing for egg-laying hens and instead mandate use of an approved American Humane Association housing system, requiring more space and the use of what is known as the enriched colony model.” Sounds like a giant step forward for chicken welfare and good news for ethical consumers, right? Wrong. While the legislation may phase out the use of standard battery cages for egg laying hens in the state of Washington, it does not ban cages—and you’d be sadly mistaken if you thought that the birds in these systems will now run free in a high-welfare farming system. The reality is that AHA’s “enriched colony model” actually embraces the use of enriched cages. No amount of clever wording or media spin will change the fact that an enriched cage is still a cage.

Up to $5,000 Available to NY Retailers for “Buy Local” Promotions

By Animal Welfare Approved | April 8, 2011

The Pride of New York Retail Promotion Grant program is working to help NY consumers identify food items from New York State. Their aim is to help increase sales for both NY farmers and retailers.

State Acting Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine says, “Consumer awareness and interest in buying local food has increased dramatically in recent years…This program will provide valuable assistance to retailers to help them source more local New York products as well as necessary resources to develop customized promotional materials that highlight local businesses. We are pleased to offer this financial opportunity that will support the New York State economy and benefit all sides of the equation, including retailers, farmers, food processors and consumers alike.”

Not all Organic is Equal–Final chance to let the NOSB know what you think!

By Andrew Gunther | April 7, 2011

When you buy organic meat and dairy products, you probably have certain expectations about how they were produced and how the animals were raised.

You may expect that animals on organic farms would be raised with the highest welfare in mind, with lots of space and free access to pasture. You may expect that all organic farmers would be caring and conscientious enough to allow organic animals to exhibit their natural behaviors. You may expect that organic farms would be far superior to industrial farms and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Sorry to dash your hopes, but all organic farmers do not necessarily raise their animals with even Big Ag’s welfare standards as a base. It might surprise you to know that the United States National Organic Program (NOP) – the federal regulatory framework that governs organic food and farming in the U.S. – has no specific rules on the amount of space that organic farmers are required to give their animals whenever they are housed indoors. This obviously raises questions about animal welfare.

Human Milk From Cows? Really?

By Andrew Gunther | April 5, 2011

News is breaking that Chinese scientists have created genetically modified (GM) cattle using human genes to produce “human-like” milk in a bid to make cow’s milk more nutritious. The intention is to produce it on an industrial scale to replace formula milk and breast milk, when normal breast feeding is either not possible or undesirable.

The Telegraph newspaper reports that scientists at the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University have successfully introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to produce what they call “human-like” cow milk. It is well known that human breast milk contains key nutrients that can help to boost the immune system of babies and reduce the risk of infections. The scientists wanted to find a way to produce an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk on an industrial scale, with the eventual aim of getting this GM “human-like” cow’s milk on supermarket shelves.

AWA Supports Public Patent Foundation’s Suit Against Monsanto

By Andrew Gunther | April 1, 2011

Earlier this week the Public Patent Foundation filed a law suit against biotech giant Monsanto on behalf of more than 270,000 plaintiffs – including thousands of certified organic family farmers, seed-saving organizations and farmer advocacy groups. The aim of this preemptive law suit is to prevent Monsanto from suing organic farmers and seed growers if their organic crops and seeds are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s GM crops.

Sounds an unlikely scenario? Well, when it comes to GM contamination I’m afraid that the “Polluter Pays Principle” flies out of the window. Monsanto has already taken aggressive legal action against hundreds of farmers across the U.S. (and beyond) for alleged patent infringements, in which the farmers are sued for allegedly obtaining GM seed illegally and planting it without paying Monsanto for the privilege. Intellectual property rights law means that Monsanto owns the genes it has inserted into its GM crops. So if Monsanto’s GM police (oh yes, they really do exist) subsequently find those genes in plants on a farmer’s field – and he or she has not legally purchased GM seed – then Monsanto can sue.