If you tear up whenever you watch videos of animals as they are being cruelly slaughtered but can’t handle a vegetarian diet, there is another option for you – Animal Welfare Approved meat.
Animal Welfare Approved meat is given to family farms that have passed their the most rigorous and progressive animal care requirements in the nation, as recognized by the World Society for the Protection of Animals for two years running now. Having the label verifies that participating farms are putting each individual animal’s comfort and well-being first. The program benefits all of us with the simple understanding that our own best interests are intrinsically linked to animals and the environment.
Animals are raised outdoors on pasture or range on true family farms with the “most stringent” welfare standards according to the World Society for the Protection of Animals in both 2008 and 2009 reports. The standards have been developed in collaboration with scientists, veterinarians, researchers and farmers and incorporate best practice and recent research. Annual audits by experts in the field cover birth to slaughter. Species include beef cattle and calves, dairy cattle and calves, pigs, poultry (chicken, turkey and duck), sheep, dairy sheep, goat, dairy goats and bison and calves.
Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) was founded in 2006 as a market-based solution to growing consumer interest in how farm animals are raised and desire to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced. The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), a non-profit charitable organization with a long history of reducing the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by people, made the decision that it needed to create a separate division dedicated solely to certifying and promoting family farms that raise their animals with the highest welfare standards, and AWA was born.
Mission and Vision
The fundamental goal of Animal Welfare Approved is to improve farm animal welfare. Their main tool in this effort is granting the use of the AWA logo to farms that are annually audited and found to comply with our rigorous animal welfare standards. Seeing the AWA seal on meat, dairy and egg products gives consumers a way to identify products which come from humane farming systems, and it gives farmers a way to show their customers how they farm. They offer this certification and other technical and marketing services to farmers at no charge. Because they are not financially dependent on farmer fees, they are able to remain unbiased and transparent in their auditing and certification.
The Animal Welfare Approved standards are the most rigorous and progressive animal care requirements in the nation, and the only one requiring the animals to be raised outdoors, on pasture or range. Continuously ranked as the “most stringent” of all third-party certifiers by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Animal Welfare Approved systems go beyond a simple set of rules to benefit farmers, animals and consumers alike with the simple philosophy that their own best interests are intrinsically linked to animals and to the environment we share.
Animal Welfare Approved has the most rigorous standards for farm animal welfare currently in use by any United States organization. Its standards have been developed in collaboration with scientists, veterinarians, researchers, and farmers across the globe to maximize practicable, high-welfare farm management. Animal Welfare Approved’s standards incorporate best practice and recent research and have been adopted only after rigorous review. The basic premise of all the standards is that animals must be able to behave naturally and be in a state of physical and psychological well-being.
Animal Welfare Approved -
- requires animals to be raised on pasture or range
- prohibits dual production*
- awards approval only to family farmers
- charges no fees to participating farmers
- incorporates the most comprehensive standards for high welfare farming
To accomplish the goals of the Animal Welfare Approved program, all standards address every aspect of each species’ lifecycle needs from birth to death. Animal Welfare Approved works diligently to maintain a farm’s ability to be economically viable and the standards have been proven to be achievable by the vast majority of farm situations. Animal Welfare Approved reviews its standards annually, updating them as needed to incorporate new research and on-farm findings.
All farms are audited at least once annually to ensure compliance. Audits are impartial and based on the published standards. Though an audit is a snapshot of a farm, auditors are able to get an accurate picture of year-round practices by evaluating farm records, environmental quality and animal conditions.
*Dual production is when a farm raises some animals of a given species under a humane protocol and others in a conventional system. For instance, a dairy operation might raise half of their cows outside according to Animal Welfare Approved standards and the other half confined in feedlots. Animal Welfare Approved does not allow dual production because the system is misleading and gives unfair advantage to those selling humane and inhumane products side-by-side.
Where to Find
To find AWA farms and products in your area, check out the sidebar on this site.