Ask any farmer to list his or her major challenges and the issue of who will take over the farm when it’s time to retire will no doubt feature in the top 10. According to government statistics about 40% of U.S. farmers are 55 years old and up, raising real concerns about exactly who is going to fill their shoes. The sad fact is that there are fewer young people getting involved in farming than ever, and many young people see no future in the family farm. As a result, countless family farms are being bought up and absorbed by larger industrial operations. In my opinion this is one of the greatest tragedies of our generation. This is why Shelby Grebenc of Broomfield, CO, is such an inspiration. Shelby is founder of “Shelby’s Happy Chapped Chicken Butt Farm,” located about 20 miles outside of Denver. And at just 12 years-old, Shelby is also the youngest Animal Welfare Approved farmer to date. Shelby represents a beacon of hope for the future. Her dedication to high-welfare farming is an inspiration to all of us – regardless of age.
In a side-by-side comparison of farm animal welfare standards, Animal Welfare Approved is shown to be one of the best. A leading welfare organization, Humane Farm Animal Care, has just published a comparison of standards including USDA/Organic, American Humane Certified, Global Animal Partnership (GAP/Whole Foods Market) and others, and once again, AWA’s standards are the most rigorous requiring pasture access and grass-based production. The comparison chart shows key elements of standards such as outdoor access for animals, antibiotic use, transparency and managerial conflicts of interest. Across the board, AWA was ranked the best, as it has time and again.
“At this holiday time of year,” AWA program director Andrew Gunther says, “it’s great that Humane Farm Animal Care has produced the most detailed comparison of animal welfare standards to date. Consumers doing their shopping can now look to the Humane Farm Animal Care website to learn about the subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences among the various certifications and shop according to their conscience. This comparison confirms that products bearing the Animal Welfare Approved label come from farms dedicated to the well-being of animals, raised on a family farm, outdoors on pasture or range as nature intended.”
To view the standards comparison, please visit the Humane Farm Animal Care website.