Planet Green/Discovery Channel

Ethical Farm Practices: Q&A With Adele Douglass, Executive Director of Humane Farm Animal Care

HFAC Endorses Humane Farming At Beekman Farm
By Cassie Rodenberg | Tue Jul 6, 2010 16:08
Discovery Channel – Planet Green

One of the goals of our series, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, is to show Josh and Brent learning about the many challenges facing small farmers. One of those challenges is to understand the value of the meat that they eat and make sure they follow ethical farming practices to care for their animals.

In the episode premiering tonight, July 7th, Josh and Brent see first hand what goes into preparing their hogs for slaughter. In order to ensure they did things in the most humane way possible, Josh and Brent asked professional farm science instructors from a local university to help in the process. An organization founded on the ethical treatment of farm animals, Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), supports Josh and Brent’s efforts. Learn more about HFAC here.

Josh and Brent at the Beekman Farm understand the value of the meat that they eat and make sure they follow ethical farming practices to care for their animals. Ms. Adele Douglass, Executive Director of Humane Farm Animal Care supports humane farming on Beekman Farm.

Here, Ms. Douglass talks with us on humane farm practices, the Beekman show and HFAC:

Planet Green: Why did you start Humane Farm Animal Care?

Adele Douglass: I founded the organization in 2003 because I wanted to change how farm animals are treated and raised in the U.S. I used to work in Congress and I lobbied Congress. Before I started the program, I felt impotent — my family eats meat. This program would empower the consumer. Making one little change — purchasing meat with a Certified Humane label — rewards farmers who made changes in the way they raise animals. People are happy to make little changes. It’s important to say to people: This is how you can help. This is a little thing you can do to improve how animals are raised. We want to raise standards higher and continue to educate the public.

PG: What is humane slaughter?

AD: Going to their ends without fear and peacefully, without pain and suffering. When it’s done right, that’s exactly what happens.

PG: What did you think of the episode and how Josh and Brent handled the situation with their pigs?

AD: I want to congratulate you on this program because it’s honest. I had no criticisms whatsoever. I thought that it was very honest, very real and very honest. Brent and Josh showed emotion and clearly cared a great deal about the pigs.

What’s most important is that they found people to do the stunning that were experienced and knowledgeable. There’s a specific place on the forehead that renders the animal unconscious immediately. The fact that they found people knowledgeable and experienced (farm science instructors at a university) in this is very important. They took what they were doing seriously. That’s key.

The setting was also very appropriate for the situation. They didn’t separate or move the pigs, which would have been incredibly stressful. The fear of something new and change stresses pigs. It would have been incredibly stressful to move/separate the pigs in that circumstance. They did the right thing. The pigs had no anxiety.

PG: Why do you think it is important for people to understand where their food comes from?

AD: I think because they’ll value it more. I think what they were saying, when Brent says he won’t eat a 99 cent burger again, it’s true. It costs more to raise animals right, treat them right. It’s important for people to appreciate that there’s a sacrifice involved for their food. I think that most of us have an idea of where food comes from, but the idea we have isn’t a reality.

PG: What organizations support HFAC?

AD: HFAC has received endorsements from more than 34 regional and national humane organizations including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The Certified Humane Raised and Handled® program has also been touted in many publications since 2003, including Consumer Reports, Vanity Fair and USA Today.

PG: Where should people go for more information on this topic?

AD: They can visit our Certified Humane website.