Animal Welfare Approved

Archive for June, 2011

AWA Now Accepting 2011-2012 Good Husbandry Grant Proposals

By Emily | June 17, 2011

Animal Welfare Approved is pleased to announce a call for proposals for its 2011-2012 Good Husbandry Grants. Now in its fourth year, the Good Husbandry Grants program has funded nearly one hundred projects across the country to improve farm animal welfare. Certified farmers and those who have submitted an application for AWA certification may apply for up to $5,000 towards projects such as mobile housing, breeding stock, and on-farm processing equipment. Slaughter plants working with or seeking to work with AWA farmers are also eligible for funding.

The funding priorities for this year’s cycle include improved genetics, increased outdoor access, welfare improvements in the slaughter process and non-lethal predator control. A primary goal of this grant program is to facilitate the growth and success of high-welfare, pasture-based systems.

Barinaga Ranch – Marshall, CA

By Animal Welfare Approved | June 16, 2011

Marcia Barinaga has deep sheep ranching roots, reaching back beyond her grandfather’s arrival on this continent from Basque country in the early 1900s. Her father moved from the family farm to upstate New York, but after receiving a degree in biology, Marcia decided to return to those roots. She bought 800 acres of pastureland in Northern California’s beautiful Marin County in 2001. In 2007, Barinaga Ranch got its first sheep and in 2012 will be milking about 80 sheep to produce her handcrafted sheep’s milk cheese, which is a “West Marin interpretation of the Basque cheeses you can buy from farmhouses in the Basque country. “

Shelby Acres – Colquitt, GA

By Animal Welfare Approved | June 15, 2011

Robin Rau raises Certified AWA Dorper and White Dorper sheep breeding stock at Shelby Acres in Colquitt, GA. With the help of Shirley Brooks, Robin rotates sheep on managed pastures, letting them range and forage as nature intended.

Can Monsanto Police Itself? or How “Refuge in a Bag” Should Stay in the Bag

By Andrew Gunther | June 14, 2011

Monsanto Canada recently reported that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has granted approval for its latest GM offering, the intriguingly named “refuge in a bag” Bt corn. With all the hype surrounding GM crops, it would be easy to dismiss this announcement as just another piece of press puff from the GM giant. But unfortunately this new development is actually something we need to keep a close eye on. As we have come to expect, the government has let the GM community police itself, leaving the companies that are peddling the new technology to regulate its use.

First, it is important to understand what a “refuge” is when it comes to GM crops. Despite the fact that Animal Welfare Approved has blogged extensively on the many drawbacks and dangers of GM technology, the concept of “refuge” actually relates to a problem that we haven’t covered in detail before – namely the inevitable development of pest resistance to GM crops.

Still no Regulation to Keep Poisons off our Plate

By Andrew Gunther | June 13, 2011

Arsenic – that well-known poison made notorious by historic murder cases–was first added to poultry feed in 1944 and pretty much since that time there have been warnings of its potential to cause various cancers and contribute to other health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. Until now the FDA has maintained incorrectly that there was no basis for the warning as all the arsenic would be excreted by the chicken before you and I ever ate the meat.

Now the FDA has admitted that arsenic does indeed remain in the body of birds fed this dangerous element. This discovery that arsenic persists in the livers of meat chickens has caused Alpharma, a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., to voluntarily remove its arsenic containing feed additive Roxarsone from the market…

You might ask why arsenic is in poultry feed at all…

E. coli and The Misuse of Antibiotics

By Andrew Gunther | June 8, 2011

When it comes to food and farming, unfortunately it often takes a major public health scare to bring about necessary changes in policy and practice. Unless you have been on another planet you will have no doubt heard the news of the horrific food poisoning outbreak in Europe which has killed 24 people and left almost 2,500 sick.

At the time of writing the exact source of this E. coli outbreak is still not known, although almost all cases have occurred in Germany or were directly linked to travel there. But while the primary focus remains identifying the source of the outbreak and treating those affected, scientists have already expressed alarm at the fact that this particular strain of E. coli – E. coli O104:H4 – is resistant to several classes of important antibiotics. And the consensus is that one of the most likely reasons for the development of this multiple-resistant strain is the misuse of antibiotics in intensive livestock farming systems.

Quiet Acres Farm – Grottoes, VA

By Animal Welfare Approved | June 3, 2011

Sylvia King raises Certified AWA sheep at Quiet Acres Farm in Grottoes, Virginia –in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Sylvia and her late husband Daniel began farming in 2008 because of a love of pasture-based farming and an increasing demand for their high-welfare, sustainably produced lamb. Quiet Acres Farm consists of 45 acres of orchard grass and alfalfa along with 21 acres of Lakota Prairie brome grass, on which Sylvia grazes her herd of Certified AWA Katahdin sheep.

UK Soil Association Calls for End of Routine Antibiotic Use–MRSA Found on British Farms

By Animal Welfare Approved |

Following a study published today on the discovery of MRSA in British milk, the Soil Association is calling for the end of routine antibiotic use in dairy farming.

A new type of MRSA bacteria was discovered by scientists from Cambridge University in samples of milk taken from cows with mastitis. This is the first time that MRSA has been found in farm animals in the UK.

Commenting on the research, Helen Browning OBE, Director of the Soil Association said:

“In the relentless drive for increased per animal productivity, and under acute price pressure, dairy systems are becoming ever more antibiotic dependent. We need to get farmers off this treadmill, even if that means that milk has to cost a few pennies more. That would be a very small price to pay for maintaining the efficacy of these life-saving drugs.”