Free-Range or Free-Reign? Channeling Consumer Demand for More Humanely Raised Products to Verifiably Better Producers
Time: 3:55 PM to 5:20 PM
Kara Shannon, ASPCA, Manager of Farm Animal Welfare program
Laurie Ristino, Director, Center For Agriculture And Food Systems; Associate Professor Of Law, Vermont Law School
Dan Honig, Founder, Happy Valley Meat
Key Words: farm animal welfare, certification, consumer demand, label regulation
This panel will provide insight into the world of animal welfare labeling, where well-meaning consumers demanding higher-welfare animal products are faced with a marketplace overrun with unregulated, meaningless claims. Insufficient USDA labeling regulations allow producers raising animals in factory-farm conditions to use claims like “free-range,” “natural” and “thoughtfully raised,” misleading consumers and taking market share away from producers who are actually raising animals more humanely. Facing inaction by the USDA, how do we channel this consumer demand towards verifiably better producers? Panelists across disciplines- the ASPCA, Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems and Happy Valley Meat Company- will discuss the challenges facing producers and consumers attempting to participate in and support a more humane, transparent food system. Panelists will discuss the importance of meaningful third-party animal welfare certification programs, including Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane and Global Animal Partnership. The ASPCA and Vermont Law School recently partnered to create a Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide, providing farmers and businesses with a tool to better understand the benefits and requirements of these three certification programs. Happy Valley Meat Company has committed to having its entire supply chain welfare-certified by 2021 and is currently working on the ground with its farmers to meet this goal.