Animal Welfare Approved has an annual tradition of taking a moment to thank the family farmers who work so hard to produce healthy and environmentally responsible food for our communities. Farming is not an easy job, and we want to encourage AWA friends and followers to take this opportunity to appreciate farmers you know for their contribution to our holiday tables and to our tables every day. As the only national nonprofit organization that audits, certifies and supports farmers raising animals on pasture, we are fortunate to have become the most highly regarded food label for sustainability and outdoor farming systems. With an ever-growing family of certified farms, AWA helps consumers find sustainable, pasture-raised products and connect with the farmers that produce them. We encourage you to seek out AWA farms and purchase their products this holiday season as a way to support pasture-based farms. Please also use this forum and social media to share your thanks. USE THE COMMENT BOX BELOW TO SHARE YOUR THANKS TO FAMILY FARMERS. OR… to use Twitter to thank family farmers, use the hash tag #ThankAWAFarmers. On Facebook, use @Animal Welfare Approved to tag your message. We will share all of these messages with AWA farmers! Food is a central focus of any holiday, but it has impacts far beyond the table. While the majority of farm animals are raised in extreme confinement, numerous studies have shown that pasture- and range-based farming is better for the environment and brings a wide range of benefits to both animals and consumers. Our farmers are providing good, healthy food from animals raised according to the highest standards and are moving us all towards a more sustainable future. Every animal we raise outdoors on pasture brings an environmental benefit to us all – in responsible nutrient management, soil conservation and lower environmental impact. Join us in celebrating these farmers who work so hard to feed us and who are truly stewards of our planet.
Animal Welfare Approved is pleased to announce that it will offer a third year of Good Husbandry Grants. AWA is seeking proposals for projects to improve farm animal welfare with a concentration on three areas: increased outdoor access, improved genetics and improved slaughter facilities. “We have awarded funding for 65 projects in 25 states and are delighted to be able to continue these grants for 2011,” said Andrew Gunther, AWA Program Director. “The impact of these grants has been extraordinary—the finished projects prove that there is an inextricable link between high-welfare, pasture- and range-based husbandry and successful farms.” Current Animal Welfare Approved farmers and those who have applied to join the program are eligible for grants of up to $5,000.
Jeremy Vargo of AWA-certified Vargo Farms in Bullock, North Carolina, raises hogs and received a 2010 grant to improve his mobile housing system. “The huts have greatly benefited my hogs,” he explained, “by improving herd health and expanding our ability to rotate pastures while providing shelter from the elements. This grant program, like AWA, is a win-win for the whole farm.” Organic Pastures Dairy Company, LLC in Fresno, California – the largest retail-approved raw and organic dairy in the United States (California allows sales of raw milk in retail outlets) – used a Good Husbandry Grant to improve its shelters and allow for greater pasture access. Farmer Aaron McAfee reported positive feedback: “Our nutritionist has noticed an overall improvement in the health of our calves.” He went on to say, “This project was very beneficial to our herd and overall AWA standing.”
Slaughter plants working with AWA farms are also eligible to apply but should contact Grants Coordinator Emily Lancaster to discuss proposed projects before submitting a proposal. The deadline for proposals is October 1, 2010. Guidelines, FAQ’s, project profiles and an application form are available on the AWA Grants for Farmers page or by contacting Emily Lancaster at 919.428.1641 or Emily@AnimalWelfareApproved.org.