Deceptive practices leave farm animals suffering

There is a special irony in the work we do here at Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC).

After launching HFAC in 2003 based on the farm animal care standards created by the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Animals) in the UK – and receiving support from 65 humane organizations here in the US, including the HSUS and the ASPCA – we find ourselves continually battling a barrage of attacks from animal rights groups.

Recently, six people comprising “Animal Justice of Canada” filed a complaint to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency saying that Certified Humane®’s standards are no more than the industry norm, which is laughable, since our standards were written by animal welfare scientists and veterinarians from around the world – all experts in their fields. These experts came together to write humane standards that meet the needs of different farm animals raised for food, which is based on a scientific understanding of their biology and behavior, and not an individual’s or group’s make-believe perception of what they think these animals need.

Yet this group accuses Certified Humane® of “deception” and misleading the public about its program. I have two things to say about that.

First, none of the images in their propaganda video were taken on a Certified Humane® farm or during the transport from a Certified Humane® farm to a slaughterhouse that meets the standards we require. This is a typical approach to attacking us. These groups use footage and photos from factory farms to make their claims against Certified Humane® farms. Isn’t that incredibly deceitful? I promise you, I know our farms and our farmers and these animal rights groups have never set foot on a farm that has been Certified Humane®.

Second, we are completely transparent about our Animal Care Standards and publish them on our website for anyone and everyone to see. I encourage you to check them out. If you don’t want to read all of the standards, I am attaching a link to the letter we wrote in response to their complaint along with a comparison chart so that you can at least see how we stack up to their false claims that our standards are no better than industry standards.

One of their complaints is that chickens are sometimes raised indoors and are not pasture-raised. The irony of this is in Canada, it is not always warm enough to let the birds outside. There is no scientific evidence that chickens cannot be raised well indoors. For this reason, Certified Humane® wrote standards for both barn-raised and free-range chickens. Whether they are raised inside or outside, our standards ensure their behavioral and physiological needs are always met. We believe chickens can be raised humanely in a barn, just as a cat can be raised humanely in a home – never going outside either – so long as the cat receives enrichments, like toys and exercise, that allow it to exhibit its natural behaviors, which in the case of my two cats is play, groom, eat and sleep.

HFAC’s mission is to ensure safeguards and protections for the humane treatment of farm animals.  We want to make sure that animals raised for food receive certain standards of care throughout their lives. In contrast, some animal rights groups see our work for farm animals as a threat to their agenda. They believe if there are improvements for farm animals, then people won’t want to give up meat and poultry and become vegetarians or vegans. So they continually undermine our efforts to improve the lives of farm animals rather than going after factory farming practices where animal suffering actually occurs.

How can our animal welfare group compete with an animal rights group willing to use false imagery to make their point? How do we compete against groups attempting to derail any improvements for farm animals because they falsely believe people will be less likely become vegetarians if there are humane standards for farm animals raised for food?

All we can do is continually try to educate consumers about the Certified Humane® program and the need to help farm animals – the most abused animals in the word.  It’s our hope that reasoned people understand that attacking Certified Humane® farms and the progress being made for the humane treatment of farm animals will only ensure that factory farms continue to thrive and continue to allow animals to suffer.  If these groups really cared about animals, they would not let animals suffer to make a political point.

Response to AJC
Canadian Codes of Practice Comparison to HFAC Standards