(703)435-3883 info@certifiedhumane.org PO Box 82 Middleburg, VA 20118

Green Connect

Founded in 2020 by CEO Huynh Hanh Phuc, Green Connect produces cage-free eggs in the Nhon Trach district in Dong Nai province, Vietnam.

With about five thousand laying hens raised to Certified Humane® Farm Animal Care Standards, Green Connect produces between 70,000 and 90,000 eggs per month at the peak of production under the brand called 3 Mộc.

“We want to send a signal and some inspiration to other farmers to convert their cage model to the cage-free chicken model,” explains CEO Huynh Hanh Phuc.

Guided by the goal of implementing a production method that ensures the well-being of the birds, Green Connect looked to incorporate Certified Humane® practices.

“We learned that chickens outnumber any other animal on Earth, but if raised in cages, they are prevented from performing various natural behaviors. I think that humans, in their quest for happiness, should at least respect animals, since they serve us with their eggs and meat,” comments Huynh Hanh Phuc.

International Training Center Cage-Free Innovation and Welfare Hub (Fapet Egg)

The model farm of the Faculty of Animal Sciences at Gadja Madah University (UGM), in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, was created to operate as a faulty training center emphasizing the importance of animal welfare in the poultry industry.

As an educational institution, UGM’s journey towards establishing a cage-free egg farm was a collaborative effort. To ensure efficiency, productivity, and a consistent supply of high-quality eggs, UGM employed a strategy for animal welfare and sustainability by adhering to Certified Humane® Farm Animal Care Standards for laying hens.

Cage-free eggs produced by UGM have the Certified Humane® logo and are sold under the brand Fapet Egg. The eggs are distributed mainly to meet the needs of the faculty’s teaching staff, and some product lines are available for purchase at the university’s mini-market and local community resellers.

We learned about the Certified Humane® program through one of our partners and explored information on the official program website,” says Professor and PhD Budi Guntoro, the university director responsible for Fapet Egg. “This certification is a comprehensive reflection of our dedication to ethical practices throughout our egg production process.”

Although it was feasible to comply with Certified Humane® Farm Animal Standards, Guntoro mentions that a challenge faced by Fapet Egg was the limited availability of birds to adapt to the cage-free system.

According to Guntoro, facing this challenge required strategic collaboration and the development of a supply chain that supported the availability of chickens to adapt to the cage-free system in the region. “Certified Humane® services are a valuable resource that provided us with guidance that not only validates our practices but also contributes to the broader goal of improving the welfare of our chickens.”

CAS Farm

CAS Farm is in the Ninh Thuan region of Vietnam and produces free-range eggs. A distinctive feature of the farm is the integration of a solar energy system, which not only reduces operational costs, but also minimizes the environmental impact.

One of the main hurdles to becoming Certified Humane® was finding reliable sources of antibiotic-free feed for their laying hens. Now, products from CAS Farm are gaining recognition among food retailers, food and beverage companies, and hotel chains in Vietnam.

Shoppers in Vietnam drive the demand for Certified Humane® free-range eggs. They are concerned about higher welfare standards for livestock animals.

“People are increasingly concerned about the origin of the food they eat and how it is produced,” says Tu Nguyen, Deputy Director of CAS Farm. “Farms that invest in more sustainable production, focusing on animal welfare, have a lot to communicate to shoppers.”

CAS Farm’s vision is focused on innovation, environmental responsibility, and respect for animals. Each egg produced is a testament to their commitment to creating a more sustainable and ethical world for future generations. Learn more about CAS Farm on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nongnghiepbenvungcasfarm


Dr. Brenda Coe reviews a career of protecting farm animal welfare

Brenda Coe, Ph.D., has dedicated her life to studying animal behavior and implementing best practices on behalf of cows, chickens, pigs, goats and lambs around the United States and, lately, around the world.

For more than 30 years, she’s been a professor and researcher in Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. That’s how she began working alongside our founder — right at the beginning of Adele Douglass Jolley’s quest to improve the lives of food animals in the global supply chain.

Today, Brenda is still on the front lines of developing and auditing for Certified Humane® Farm Animal Standards on farms and ranches worldwide.

“I love the farmers that I work with,” she said. “I love talking to people who are really proud and excited to show you what their facilities are like and what they’re doing.”

The decades of experience allow her to comfortably claim the title “Senior Auditor.”

“I’ve been doing it for the longest. And I’m senior to all the other auditors,” she said with a laugh.

As a member of our Scientific Committee, she helps Certified Humane® apply the latest research and best practices to its Certified Humane® Farm Animal Standards

“Certified Humane® is a way for the public to see that farmers care,” Brenda said. “It’s a good way to identify farmers who are doing a good job.”

That’s what she loves best: seeing how the farmers and ranchers pour into the animals they care for.

“I love coming to see the improvements they’ve made and just hear their stories: the problems they had and how they fixed them,” Brenda said. “I love the people aspect of what I do just as much as I enjoy being around all the different animals.”

Cows, chickens and… red deer?

Brenda began her career studying cows, and lately she visits a lot of poultry farms on behalf of Certified Humane®.

However, Brenda is one of the few auditors with the scientific background, training and auditing experience in all the species that the Certified Humane® program covers.

Recently, she added another animal to her list of studied species: red deer.

Brenda traveled to New Zealand to study and develop Humane Farm Animal Standards specifically for red deer. There, the red deer have only recently been domesticated. She learned a lot as she toured different red deer facilities.

“It’s very much like elk production here,” Brenda said, explaining that she knows some folks who raise elk near her home in Pennsylvania.

A key tenant of Certified Humane® Farm Animal Standards is that they are tailored to each species. That requires scientific study and understanding the animals.

“We couldn’t just plunk red deer into our beef or dairy or sheep or goat standards,” Brenda explained. “This is a different creature.”

Certified Humane® Farm Animal Standards are designed to create a universal threshold of care while taking into account the unique natural behaviors and instincts of each species.

For example, all Certified Humane® farm animals must have access to nourishing food and fresh water as well as regular care from trained handlers. Usually, that translates into handlers interacting with the animals on a daily basis.

“However, when red deer are calving, you don’t go near them. You just use your binoculars because if you freak the mom out, then she might abandon her baby,” Brenda said. “So yes, you need to check them every day, but you don’t necessarily need to be as hands-on because that would be detrimental to their welfare.”

After learning the intricacies of red deer, Brenda and her colleagues on the Scientific Committee published Humane Farm Animal Standards for the species in April 2020.

Certified Humane® red deer venison is now available to shoppers through First Light Farms’ online General Store and from Open Farm’s online shop for pet food.

A unique educational path

Brenda grew up in California and always had a love for animals. She was the kid who brought home stray pets or baby birds that fell out of their nests.

“Everybody thought that I was going to be a veterinarian,” she said. “I wanted to grow up on a farm.”

As an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis, she decided to major in animal science, which gave her a lot of options. She didn’t want to be a veterinarian. At the time, most women were small animal vets, and she wanted to do something more than fix animals when they got sick or broke a limb.

Brenda wanted to learn how to keep the animals healthy.

During her sophomore year at UC Davis, she decided to find out if she even liked living on a farm. She took a planned educational leave for a quarter and worked at a beef cattle ranch associated with the university.

On the ranch, Brenda had her first experience with animal behavior research. She got hooked, particularly on studying cows.

She attended Purdue University in Indiana next, earning a master’s degree in reproductive physiology and behavior in dairy cows in 1985.

Before day 1

In 1994, she moved to Pennsylvania for a job at Penn State leading an agriculture educational program for elementary and high school students.

Her next project was with Stanley Curtis, Ph.D, a faculty member at Penn State at the time who brought her on staff to create and implement a livestock training program for the state of Pennsylvania.

The goal was to teach Humane Society Police Officers the basics of animal husbandry so they could properly investigate accusations of animal abuse. That project evolved into Brenda’s dissertation for a Ph.D. in agricultural education and instructional design.

One day — Brenda doesn’t remember exactly when — Adele Douglass Jolley visited Penn State’s college of agriculture, on her quest for scientific perspectives on the welfare of animals. Adele was working for the American Humane Association as the director of its Washington D.C. office.

Dr. Curtis introduced Brenda to Adele. The two women got talking and kept in touch. Adele would sometimes call Brenda for her scientific insight.

When Adele organized an animal welfare certification program called Free Farms at American Humane Association, she asked Brenda to join as its director of animal science programs.

Brenda agreed. For three years, she developed training programs for auditors, traveling around the country to promote the new program and recruit the auditors.

When Adele left the American Humane Association to launch an independent nonprofit solely focused on farm animal care standards, Brenda was there to lend her help as an inspector and her insight as a member of the Scientific Committee.

“I’ve been with Certified Humane® since day 1,” she said.

Science and the farms

It took time for the Certified Humane® program to gain the reputation it enjoys today as a global leader in animal welfare auditing services with a food labeling program. Now, more shoppers know how to identify products developed to Certified Humane® Farm Animal Standards by locating the Certified Humane® logo on packages.

In the early years, ranchers and farmers applying for the certification weren’t always sure what to expect when Brenda and her fellow auditors arrived for the first inspection.

“They thought we were an animal rights organization that was coming out to tell them how to do farming,” Brenda said.

It’s different now that the program is more visible. The Certified Humane® logo is more prolific in stores. Farmers, ranchers, and processors understand that the program is a way for them to showcase the animal welfare practices that went into their products.

They understand that the Certified Humane® Farm Animal Standard are rooted in animal science. They know that auditors are scientists or veterinarians with deep knowledge about what they’re advising.

“People now are a lot more welcoming,” Brenda said. “And once they’ve been through an inspection once, they realize the standards are pretty common sense and not unrealistic.”

Brenda travels frequently across the country to do inspections. As Certified Humane® expanded internationally, she began to travel to Canada and then as far as Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s growing exponentially at this point, which is very exciting,” she said.

Though she doesn’t enjoy the travel itself anymore, Brenda still loves the work she does. In between her trips, Brenda lives near the Penn State campus, teaches college courses on the weekends and cares for her horses.

She’s still looking for a farm to claim as her own. And she still believes strongly in the mission of Certified Humane®.

“It’s a way for the consumer to support improved animal welfare by choosing products with the Certified Humane® logo,” she said. “It’s a way to improve animals’ lives.”

Pocono Organics

“Earning the Certified Humane® certification is an honor for our farm and team,” said Ashley Walsh, Founder and President of Pocono Organics. “Being recognized by Certified Humane® is a distinction that shows the level of commitment we have for animals on our farm. The Certified Humane® logo represents the highest ethical standards for how we treat our animals.”

Nestled in the iconic Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, Pocono Organics sprawls over 380 acres and is one of the largest Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) farms in North America and the world’s first and only ROC hemp grower. As a global center for Research, Education, and Innovation, Pocono Organics has a strategic partnership with Rodale Institute, the world leaders in regenerative organic science. Pocono Organics became one of Rodale’s largest Regional Resource Centers in early 2022 and hosts PhD scientists who conduct numerous studies on soil health, nutrient density, UV light pest management, and carbon sequestration.

A champion for agrobiodiversity and food sovereignty, Pocono Organics partnered with the Crop Trust, the stewards of the Doomsday Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, in 2020 to host the first global Food Forever Experience held at a farm – telling a story from soil and seed to chef and plate. The educational and food-forward event brought together notable regional chefs who were challenged to envision and create plates from ancient and lesser-known foods such as amaranth, fonio, tepary bean, and partenon zucchini.

Sustainability is at the heart of the farm’s mission and in 2019, Pocono Organics was awarded the Environmental Innovator of the Year by the Green Sports Alliance. The farm draws power from a 3MW, 25-acre solar farm and has the ability to reclaim rainwater from 70,000 square feet of roofs for irrigation.

Pocono Organics also serves the local community through its Clean Food, Dirty Hands school education program and veterans in transition through a Veteran Farmer Training Program in partnership with the Rodale Institute. The property includes a farmer’s market and café with a 56-room adjoining hotel and is an agritourism destination and a host location for annual festivals. Please visit www.PoconoOrganics.com to learn more about Pocono Organics’ mission and work.

Pocono Organics Pasture Raised Eggs can be purchased at Pocono Organics Market in Long Pond, PA.

(Please note: Certified Humane® certification is complementary to regenerative systems, including Regenerative Organic Certified and other individual programs. The Certified Humane® program verifies farm animal welfare practices that are a critical piece of a complete regenerative agricultural system. Certified Humane® standards ensure these animals are not overcrowded and they are offered the right grasses for their species and the region. Grazing habits are managed by rotating animals around a pasture to verdant areas with plant life at the right stage of their growth cycle for grazing and maximum nutrient benefit. This is known as Rotational Grazing and done correctly, it will nourish the animals and stimulate long term pasture growth, naturally holding carbon in the soil. Follow this link to read more about Regenerative and Sustainable Agriculture.)

CV. Telur Ayam Bahagia

First Certified Humane® Farm in Indonesia

Founded by Professor Ali Agus, a Faculty of Animal Science professor at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia, CV. Telur Ayam Bahagia is a company that raises multiple species of animals in the city of Yogyakarta and focuses on the vertical integration of food production guided by animal welfare principles.

With the addition of 1,000 cage-free Certified Humane® chickens, it is the latest company in Southeast Asia to apply the Certified Humane® logo on the packaging of its eggs, marketed by the AYAM BAHAGIA brand. It is the first farm in Indonesia to start producing Certified Humane® products.

“Our first unit was a premix and probiotics manufacturer. In 2017, I joined the company as Director and began to expand our unit to farm distribution and retail,” says Arya Khoirul Hammam, Director and son of Professor Ali Agus.

He adds: “In 2017, we developed functional eggs with consistently high nutrition. We wanted to include animal welfare in our operation so in 2018 we tried to develop our first free range model farm without any knowledge on the subject and faced many challenges until we found the Certified Humane® program.”


Director Arya Khoirul Hammam reports that after adopting the cage-free model according to Humane Farm Animal Care Standards, production has taken a leap in efficiency:

“Now we know the maximum density of birds that we must respect in the housing area and in the external area, the minimum number of drinkers and feeders, in addition to the space for nests and perches, as well as control of the management of the farm and how daily monitoring of production and welfare indicators must be done. When we tried to promote the free-range model ourselves, we ran into many problems that we didn’t know the answers to. The Certified Humane® program gave us a complete understanding of the free range farm model to guide us as producers”.


The adoption of animal welfare standards was not without its challenges according to Director Arya Khoirul Hammam. “It certainly takes time to adapt to the new management and train our staff in the new system. The way of managing the farm was our biggest challenge”.

“The value of our company lies in selling products from healthy animals raised with animal welfare principles. Applying Humane Farm Animal Care Standards gives us a competitive advantage within the sector,” he says.

AYAM BAHAGIA brand eggs are sold in the company’s own establishments: in the store, in the restaurant, and in the Amanjiwo Hotel, close to the temple of Borobudur. Contact CV. Telur Ayam Bahagia at info@agromixlesterigroup.com.

Regenerative and Sustainable Agriculture

While our focus remains on the welfare of farm animals, Certified Humane® certification is complementary to regenerative systems, including Regenerative Organic Certified, ‘Certified Regenerative’ Beef by Greenham, and other individual programs.

Regenerative agricultural practices actively improve the environment and soil carbon sequestration and are a key tool for the future of agriculture in combatting climate change. Intentionally incorporating animals into a pasture system can enrich the soils, promote plant growth, and increase carbon sequestration bringing damaged pasture back to life. Responsible grazing management, part of the Certified Humane® program requirements, will not damage or deplete natural resources and the environment.

Example of an untended pasture, not contributing to environmental improvement

The Certified Humane® program verifies farm animal welfare practices that are a critical piece of a complete regenerative agriculture system. Certified Humane® standards ensure these animals are not overcrowded and they are offered the right grasses for their species and the region. Grazing habits are managed by rotating animals around a pasture to verdant areas with plant life at the right stage of their growth cycle for grazing and maximum nutrient benefit. This is known as Rotational Grazing and done correctly, it will nourish the animals and stimulate long term pasture growth, naturally holding carbon in the soil.

What some Certified Humane® producers are saying about their Regenerative Agricultural and Sustainable practices worldwide:

(Select map icons or follow links below to read more about Certified Humane® producers: GreenhamIngleby FarmsFazenda da TocaKorinApricot Lane FarmsHart DairyNew Barn OrganicsNiman RanchVital FarmsWhite Oak PasturesFarm Fresh MalaysiaPete and Gerry’sTeton Waters RanchIdyll FarmsRedwood Hill Farm)

‘Certified Regenerative’ Beef by Greenham

With more than 160 years in the Australian red meat industry, Greenham is a leader in producing premium-quality beef that is good for our consumers, animals, and the planet.

The Greenham Beef Sustainability Standard provides a practical set of indicators and measures for producers to follow. Consistent with globally recognised definitions of regenerative farming, the standard takes a holistic approach to regenerative beef production, which incorporates four key themes.

The standard has been endorsed by Certified Humane®, and environmental and agriculture specialists, Integrity Ag & Environment.

CLICK HERE to view the Greenham Beef Sustainability Standard
CLICK HERE to read more about ‘Certified Regenerative’ Beef by Greenham

Comments and resources for further study from the Certified Humane® Scientific Committee

Brenda Coe, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University, USA
“Livestock production can, and should, be an important part of a sustainable food system. Cattle, sheep, goats, swine, and poultry can be raised on pastures that would otherwise be unsuitable for growing crops, can eat crop residues and other by-products that are often wasted, and produce manure that can be used as fertilizer. Continued efforts to prevent soil and pasture degradation by integrating intensive livestock farming with agricultural crops, controlling animal stocking rates and doing rotational grazing, conducting soil testing and properly fertilizing soil along with pest and weed control will improve soil health, allowing improved pasture recovery and resilience. Advances in animal genetics, veterinary care, feed quality, and grazing systems (rotational and adaptive multi-paddock grazing) are improving soil and pasture quality and also helping shrink the climate footprint of livestock operations. Regenerative livestock production also helps develop more resiliency in the land to climate challenges like droughts, fires, or flooding, benefiting farmers and communities as well as the entire food system.”

Anne Fanatico, PhD Appalachian State University, USA
“Animals are a key part of regenerative agriculture. Grazing animals and livestock help manage the extensive grasslands and rangelands in the Midwest and western states. Forage plants sequester carbon from the atmosphere in living plants and underground in the form of roots and organic matter. In the East, where there is sufficient precipitation for tree cover, agroforestry systems are appropriate for grazing livestock. Trees in particular sequester carbon. Farm animals, such as swine and poultry, are particularly important for nutrient cycling. Animals can eat things that humans do not such as crop residue and by-products. Animals contribute to biodiversity, which is key in resilience. They release the energy and nutrients stored in plants, so it can flow or cycle throughout the farm ecosystem (Gliessman, 2015. Agroecology: The Ecology of Food Systems). Access to the outdoors, pasture, and range is important animal welfare. Perennial pasture and grasslands are ways to grow food without tillage and keeping the carbon in the soil where it belongs.”

Brittany J. Howell, Ph.D., PAS, Fort Hays State University, USA
“Proper grazing and pasture management can reduce unwanted invasive plant species that can greatly impact the water availability in pastures. Invasive trees like red cedars can use up to 42 gallons of water per day depending on tree stem diameter and other factors. Also, grazing animals are part of a natural ecosystem, recycling carbon, adding nutrients to the soil through urine and feces, and removing older plant material which stimulates growth of new material (like nature’s lawnmower). And when it comes to the end of the animal’s life, the animal can be composted to enrich the soil and provide the most environmentally friendly way to utilize those nutrients to regrow plants.”

Photo credits:
Example of an untended pasture, not contributing to environmental improvement; courtesy of NCAT (ATTRA.NCAT.org)
Example of what a pasture can become, WITH the inclusion of grazing animals and proper management; courtesy of NCAT (ATTRA.NCAT.org)

AlaSüt Milk & Yoghurt – First Certified Humane® Farm in Turkey

Director Melih ERTÜRK discusses AlaSüt Milk & Yoghurt made by cows at Uluova’s farms.

Uluova’s first farm was established in 2015 and the entire rootstock herd was imported from the United States. We were looking for an internationally recognized certificate program to prove to our customers that animal care in our farm is at world standards. Thanks to our understanding established to produce breeding animals beyond market needs and to produce milk in the most natural way, it has made a desirable production farm in the market.

While only Holstein cows were owned between 2015 and 2021, Uluova now has a total of 4000 animals of 4 different breeds in total with the new robotic farm built in 2021. AlaSüt produces pasteurized milk and yoghurt at high standards only from Beta Casein A2 milk and from the farm accredited by Certified Humane®.

Our top priority for animal welfare is the awareness of our employees. On the other hand, following the health of animals is as critical as providing the barn physical conditions for animal welfare. In this context, we have a developed a laboratory [where] all kinds of analyzes are carried out here for the health of animals.

Our products are currently only sold in contracted charcuteries in Istanbul and Canakkale in Turkey and our network is planned to expand over time.

To locate Certified Humane® AlaSüt Milk & Yoghurt, please follow this link https://alasut.com/satisnoktalarimiz

Becker Lane Organic

Today’s Farm

To fully understand how and why the pork you’re eating got to your plate here is a bit of history… For millennia, man has practiced the art of keeping swine. The pig is an amazing protein sink where energy from plants and other foodstuffs not consumable by humans can be stored in the form of succulent meat until it is needed for food. The prolific nature and adaptability of pigs to many areas of the world have led to their place of prominence in the modern food chain. This practice remained unaltered until the 19th century. Now with the mass migration of people to cities fewer farmers started to keep more pigs and become more organized, soon the breeding of organized lines developed from the multitude of existing breeds to try to enhance some desired trait such as the amount of fat or muscle an animal had on its carcass, or the ability to exist in cold or hot climates. Although the Spaniards first brought pigs to North America, it was in the nineteenth century that pigs began to spread west into the United States with the Northern and Western European farmers move into Iowa, Illinois, and surrounding areas. As corn became a staple in the Midwest, it wasn’t long until pig production evolved to be its alter ego. Pigs were a way for farmers to utilize the corn they produced on their farms by turning it into pork which could be shipped back east for consumption in the form of meat. This method of adding value gave birth to the Chicago packing industry which soon acted as the processor for most of the pigs produced in the middle part of the United States. By 1915, the number of pigs produced in the United States had reached its zenith, and would never change up to today. Millions of farmers kept sows on their farms and were always counting the weeks until this or that bunch of fat hogs would be ready for market thereby enabling a stream of valuable cash to flow into that farm family’s budget. Hogs became known as “mortgage lifters” and were the backbone of the economy of Midwestern agriculture.

World War II, and the Beginning of Industrialization, Antibiotics

Following the arrival of penicillin during and after World War II, farmers in the western world learned of the seemingly miraculous ability of this new silver bullet to eliminate sickness from their livestock. It seemed even to promote growth, and over the next two decades more types of antibiotics along with penicillin became ubiquitous on any farmyard. Farmers everywhere were using it not only as a method of treating illness, but eventually as a preventative measure included in all feed from birth to near slaughter as a kind of insurance policy. Soon pharmaceutical companies and their vested marketing interest were working hand in hand with local mills, manufacturers, and universities to develop new systems that could more intensively and more densely house livestock. Why not have 1000 pigs, or 5,000 pigs in our barn? Many farmers began to ask themselves. The old limits Mother Nature imposed on the amount of pigs any one farmer could keep were apparently now abated by space age technology and miracles of the laboratory.

The Age of Confinements

By the early to middle 1960’s the “confinement barn” was spreading its way across the United States and the rest of the western world. The technology was an intensive method of housing pigs in groups for growing hogs or single stalls for sows in pregnancy and during lactation. All animals whether group or stall housed stood on concrete floors that had grooves cut into the floor to allow the waste to pass through into a “pit” which was constructed underneath the barn. This manure is kept liquefied and taken out to spread on the surrounding fields seasonally. Automatic feeding machines pass food from outside bins into the barn for the pigs to eat. Automatic lighting and ventilation as well as heating are utilized. All aspects of this system allowed for maximization of scale on one farm. In other words, lots of animals can live in a small space and minimal labor is theoretically required to care for these animals. By now, preventative antibiotic use was the modus operandi of nearly any hog operation that was viewed as progressive in its community. Soon some farmers began to build more and more confinement barns and get more and more pigs. Other farms started to feel pressure from this industrialization effect, and many began to cease pig production if their financial position restricted such expansion. Soon the farms that grew and used the new confinement system didn’t resemble the traditional family model any longer. They became corporatized, and took control of still more pigs, and to satisfy their investor shareholders they often began to make special arrangements with slaughter plants that created new kinds of economies in the rural economic fabric, so the line was blurred between farmer and packer. The idea of a daily cash market in pigs also went by the wayside.

The Other White Meat

By the 1980’s the trend of industrialization had reshaped the landscape of the Midwestern swine business. Most family and small scale traditional pig farms were gone. Hundreds of thousands of pigs could be produced on a single site with multiple confinement barns and little labor. Controversy began to arise over the impact on society and the environment from such farms. Consumers on the whole began to eat less pork for a variety of reasons. The pork industry as a whole decided on a new marketing plan for its product. “The Other White Meat” was a term coined to coincide with the trend to eat leaner meat during this time. In other words, consumers should eat pork because it was healthy and lean like poultry. Packers began to require that pigs be leaner and leaner. A few new breeding companies were formed to genetically select new kinds of hybridized pigs for leanness. Many traditional breeds of pigs that have been in existence for centuries fell out of favor and nearly into extinction as farmers were given this ultimatum from the packing plant. The overall quality of pork declined as consumers were give no choice but to buy this new leaner meat with less red color, less intramuscular fat, and degraded eating quality.

New Beginnings and Post Modern Pigs

In the 1990’s the organic food movement began to take hold in parts of Western Europe as well as the United States. Consumers began to awaken to the impact of their spending choices related to agricultural and food issues, and a keen focus on holistic living and health provided a new market for organic and natural food. It wasn’t long before some in England began to tout the importance of traditionally reared livestock as an attractive throwback approach to what had now become the dominant conventional method. People suddenly awoke to the past and memories of “good tasting” pork from farms with methods that were less controversial.

The Outdoor System from England

Farmers began to experiment with the historic systems in this new “post modern” setting and learned how to deal with modern concerns over availability on a weekly basis, (traditionally pigs were only available seasonally and much pork was salt cured and preserved for winter months) as well as clean fresh meat in packaging that met modern food safety standards. After a few years of trial and error farmers developed a good system to house pigs outdoors in any season and methods to organize the reproduction of pigs to ensure that market weight mature animals could be ready for slaughter at any time to offer fresh meat to the eating habits of modern consumers in grocery stores or restaurants.

Setting Up the Outdoor System in Iowa, a Learning Experience

In 2003 a group of niche pork enthusiasts sent a contingent of farmers, university researchers, food industry specialists, and meat scientists to Northern Europe to study the production of niche pork there. On this trip, the English system which at that time had spread into Denmark and Sweden was viewed for the first time. The promise to add organization to the traditional methods of outdoor pig production that were crying out for improvement was noted by participants. In 2004 after initiating contact with a farmer in Denmark, Becker Lane Organic Farm started to make changes in its plan of production for pigs. The first change was an ideological shift away from the traditional fear of winter birthing of small piglets. New engineering and manufacturing procedures that weren’t available prior to WWII now allowed sows living outside to give birth year round thanks to the galvanized steel farrowing hut. This strong and well insulated house for the sow preserved most of the sow’s body heat in temperatures as low as minus 20 Fahrenheit. They could be placed in pastures and filled with straw, and the insulation worked to keep the hut warm in winter and cool in summer. Now farmers that embraced the traditional views on outdoor pig production but were restricted to spring and fall birthing of piglets (farrowing) had an option to produce pigs year round thus being able to offer fresh meat continually to interface more easily with the needs of modern grocery markets and restaurants.

Getting the Food to the Customer

Challenges for independent farmers to create pathways that allow the flow of food produced with attributes outside the commodity food chain to customers who share the value of those attributes is a great challenge. Our current food supply chain is not designed to allow small quantities of food to get from farm to plate without passing through many middle gatekeepers who want to take the identity from the product and sever this philosophical bond between farmer and consumer. This reality combined with the degraded infrastructure of the slaughtering industry give only a few options for farmers to get the pigs butchered and sent on to restaurants and grocers around the country. Becker Lane has created relationships with a quality slaughtering and butchering facility that is also using organic and Certified Humane® methods. As more consumers choose organic meat, we will hope that more processing options become available for farmers and their customers.