November 01, 2013

 

 AHA certification covers nearly 1 billion farm animals

 

 



A Large White turkey (Courtesy of
USDA ARS)
 

The number of animals living on farms certified by the American Humane Association quintupled in 14 months.

Kathi Brock, director of AHA’s Humane Heartland program, said in September that about 950 million animals were living on farms verified by the American Humane Certified program as providing acceptable animal care, up from about 190 million in mid-2012. The program expanded during that period largely because of the addition of two national poultry producers.  

The population covered by the program had doubled by March to about 400 million animals with the addition of Foster Farms. In September, the AHA certified about 500 million turkeys owned by Butterball that also met the AHA requirements.  

“Both of those brands are major national brands, and that obviously accounts for that huge number,”  Brock said. “But I think it’s significant to say, even before that, for instance, we certified 94 percent of all the cage-free egg production in the United States.” 

She noted that farms in the program­­—which raise livestock for meat, milk, and eggs—range in size from family farms to companies with national brands. 

Brock said farms with small and large numbers of animals are certified, and the size of a farm is not an indicator of animal welfare. 

“We don’t think that size is really the factor, the indicator, whether the welfare is good or bad,” Brock said. “We think there’s good welfare in both, and we’re particularly pleased at the large producers that come forward and voluntarily meet our standards and want their performance verified by us.” 

Brock said the number of animals in the program tells her that intensive production systems can meet welfare standards, and she commends those that have.