All of us at Animal Welfare Approved have been concerned about the seemingly endless spate of devastating weather across the country, and are doing what we can to reach out to our farmers in affected areas. Our hearts go out to all of those who have suffered the overwhelming loss of loved ones, homes, and livelihoods. As the people of Joplin, MO work to pick up the pieces and move on from the disaster in their area, we have become aware of a unique effort springing from within the AWA family and we are doing all we can to support it wholeheartedly. Jack Whisnant, the son of Patricia and Mark Whisnant (Animal Welfare Approved farmers from American Grassfed Beef in Doniphan, MO), is leading a group to Joplin to provide BBQ pork and grassfed burgers over the Memorial Day weekend and following week. This endeavor is a massive undertaking, and we want to assist Jack in being able to meet the needs of all those in Joplin who come to him for aid. If you would like to support this effort please read on for details on how you can help.
Animal Welfare Approved is pleased to announce a call for proposals for its 2011-2012 Good Husbandry Grants. Now in its fourth year, the Good Husbandry Grants program has funded nearly one hundred projects across the country to improve farm animal welfare. Certified farmers and those who have submitted an application for AWA certification may apply for up to $5,000 towards projects such as mobile housing, breeding stock, and on-farm processing equipment. Slaughter plants working with or seeking to work with AWA farmers are also eligible for funding.
The funding priorities for this year’s cycle include improved genetics, increased outdoor access, welfare improvements in the slaughter process and non-lethal predator control. A primary goal of this grant program is to facilitate the growth and success of high-welfare, pasture-based systems. Program Director Andrew Gunther explains: “The biggest challenge in agriculture right now is getting animals outside. The science tells us that when farm animals are responsibly managed on open pasture or range, a whole host of challenges inherent in industrial agriculture simply disappear. For instance, the incidence of pathogenic E. coli is much lower in pasture-based systems, and animals are proven to have higher welfare. This ultimately leads to more nutritious, healthier products.”
In Marengo, IL, Hasselmann Family Farm’s 2009-2010 Good Husbandry Grant funded the construction of new mobile housing for the farm’s farrowing sows, facilitating the transition to pastured production. Since moving the sows onto pasture farmer Scott Hasselmann has seen numerous benefits – not only in terms of animal health and welfare, but in improved disease prevention, farm sanitation and whole farm fertility. AWA’s Good Husbandry Grants program will also continue its focus on welfare improvements in the slaughter process. Another 2009-2010 awarded to Fruitland American Meat in Jackson, MO funded the purchase of a new knock box and handling facility improvements. The modifications have allowed the plant to safely and humanely handle smaller animals such as lambs, hogs, and calves – improving animal welfare and helping the plant diversify its business.
Visit AWA’s Good Husbandry Grants page for additional information.