FARM SANCTUARY

BY AMANDA GREEN

Mission

To protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living.

farm sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary was founded in 1986 to combat the abuses of factory farming and encourage a new awareness and understanding about farm animals. Today, Farm Sanctuary is the nation’s largest and most effective farm animal rescue and protection organization. We have rescued thousands of animals and cared for them at our sanctuaries in Watkins Glen, New York; Northern California (Orland); and the Los Angeles area. At Farm Sanctuary, these animals are our friends, not our food. We educate millions of people about their plight and the effects of factory farming on our health and environment. We advocate for laws and policies to prevent suffering and promote compassion, and we reach out to legislators and businesses to bring about institutional reforms.


Farm Sanctuary is committed to ending cruelty to farm animals and promoting compassionate vegan living through rescue, education, and advocacy efforts.

Factory farming

In an ideal world, there would be no need for Farm Sanctuary as it exists today. There would be no factory farms or stockyards. Cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and sheep would be free to roam in their pastures, sleep in the sun, scratch at the earth, and enjoy life. Animals in today’s industrialized farms are treated like commodities. They are crowded into warehouses, confined so tightly that they cannot easily walk or even turn around. They are de-beaked, de-toed, and their tails are docked without anesthetic. Their bones break because their bodies have been manipulated to grow so fast that they can’t support their own weight. Factory farm animals are denied fresh air, sun, wholesome food, room to move, and the freedom to exhibit their natural behaviors. This rampant abuse of millions of animals every day is largely invisible to the public.

Humane meat

We have two thoughts on “humane meat.” First, by any reasonable standard, there is no commercially available meat that approximates anything most of us would call humane; the production of what is called humane meat today involves cruelties that would warrant felony charges were they inflicted on dogs or cats. For example, in almost all cage-free egg production, hens still suffer the painful amputation of their beak tips; they are still prevented from ever going outside, raising their chicks, or fulfilling most of their desires; and they are still crammed into trucks and shipped through all weather extremes to slaughter. They are slaughtered after living only a small fraction of their natural life span — and often in the same slaughterhouses where factory farmed animals are slaughtered. A similar story could be told about “crate-free” veal and almost all other so-called humane animal products. They are perhaps less inhumane, but they are far from humane.


Second, “humane” means “having or showing compassion or benevolence,” and we don’t believe that there is any way to raise and kill animals that shows either virtue. At our sanctuaries, we work extremely hard to protect all farm animals, and we know them as individuals, just like so many Americans know dogs and cats as individuals. For the same reason most Americans wouldn’t think of eating a dog or a cat (and calling it humane), we wouldn’t think of calling the killing of a farm animal for food humane.

Welfare Reform

We recognize that a vegan world is not yet imminent, and so we work diligently both to promote veganism, and to promote improved living and dying conditions for animals who will not be able to escape from their current circumstances. If you were a hen in a tiny battery cage, unable to spread a wing or do anything interesting to you, it would be a meaningful improvement for you to suddenly have an entire barn to explore. If you were a pig or a calf in a tiny crate, unable to move for your entire life, it would be a meaningful change for you to suddenly have a shed or a large pen in which to move about and other animals with whom to socialize.

At Farm Sanctuary, we share our lives with chickens, pigs, and other farm animals — and we know them as individuals. In determining our stance on any issue, we ask ourselves, “What’s in the best interest of the animals involved?” The idea of raising animals for food is unacceptable to us, regardless of cage sizes, living conditions, or slaughter methods — just like it would be anathema to most Americans to raise dogs or cats well (or in conditions slightly less awful) only to eat them. But welfare improvements are just that — improvements. And if we were the animals involved, with no hope of escape, we would want some activists working to reduce the cruelty we face.

In Vitro Meat

Farm Sanctuary is working to reduce the suffering of farm animals, both by promoting a reduction in animal consumption and by working for better protection of farm animals. Right now, precisely what an in vitro meat industry might look like is unclear, but it does appear that the mass production of in vitro meat would serve our mission — the reduction in numbers of animals being raised for food.

Current research even suggests that animals need not be killed in the development process of in vitro meat: The production of in vitro meat can begin by taking a muscle biopsy from a living animal and then proliferating the isolated stem cells in a nutrient-rich medium. Given these developments, Farm Sanctuary is hopeful that further development of this technology, ideally using animal-free media to scale, could save billions of lives every year.

BACKYARD Chickens

Background

In the past year, shelters and sanctuaries in urban and suburban areas have witnessed a dramatic increase in the intake of

chickens, particularly roosters. Hatcheries producing day-old chicks for shipment to feed stores and individuals are

backlogged with orders. The desire to raise poultry can be linked to organic backyard farming as well as a desire to have

direct access to food (eggs and, in some cases, meat).

As a coalition of animal sanctuaries interested in the welfare of hens and roosters, we have created this position statement

on the keeping and raising of chickens. All of us have been inundated with calls to take in hens and roosters who are a) no

longer wanted; b) not the correct sex; c) not legally permissible. As organizations with limited resources and space, it is no

longer feasible to take in even a small percentage of these unwanted animals. Even with placement assistance, most of

these chickens, particularly roosters, do not find permanent placement. This leaves municipal dog and cat shelters the task

of taking in, housing, feeding, caring for, and inevitably killing healthy, adoptable chickens.

Problems associated with urban backyard flocks

Hatcheries are like puppy mills: When animals are reduced to commodities, their best interests are pushed aside in favor of

profit. Hatcheries that produce chicks for backyard flocks treat chickens and their offspring in much the same way puppy

mills treat breeding dogs and their puppies. There are no legal requirements dictating how breeding hens and roosters are

housed, meaning they may be crammed into small cages or sheds without outdoor access.

Shipping day-old chicks is cruel: Most chickens purchased are bought from hatcheries or feed stores (these chicks originate

from hatcheries). Hatcheries ship day-old birds through the postal service without any legal oversight. Young chickens are

deprived of food and water for up to 72 hours and exposed to extremes in temperature. As Dr. Jean Cypher, a veterinarian

specializing in avian medicine states, “A day-old chick can no more withstand three days in a dark crowded box than can

any other newborn.” Other experts in avian medicine and behavior agree that transporting day-old chicks in boxes for the

first 24-72 hours of life is cruel and medically detrimental to the birds.

State Legislation's and Animal Protection History

At Farm Sanctuary, we spend our lives with farm animals, and we know them as individuals. We would no more eat a chicken or a pig than we would eat a kitten or a puppy. We also recognize that legislation can lessen the suffering of millions — or even billions — of animals with one bill.

Farm Sanctuary works hard both to pass good state legislation and to stop bad state legislation.

ANIMAL PROTECTION LEGISLATION HISTORY

Since Farm Sanctuary partnered with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida on the first state ban on a factory farming practice — the ban on gestation crates in Florida in 2002 — momentum has spread to get rid of some of the worst abuses of farm animals.

In 2004, we led the charge to ban both the production and sale of foie gras in California. Then in 2006, again partnering with HSUS, we followed our landslide Florida victory with a ban on both gestation and veal crates in Arizona. The year 2008 was our biggest challenge yet, working to ban cruel confinement systems in California, the country’s top agricultural state. Working with HSUS, we banned veal and gestation crates, and battery cages, and the measure passed by the highest margin of any other citizen initiative in California history.

Since that time, six more states have banned gestation crates (Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Ohio, and Rhode Island), five more have banned veal crates (Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, Maine, and Rhode Island), and one has banned battery cages (Michigan).

ANTI-ANIMAL LEGISLATION

Unfortunately, there has also been an outpouring of anti-animal bills, called “Ag Gag” or “whistleblower suppression” bills. These bills are designed to criminalize undercover investigations. The factory farmers’ response to exposés showing illegal abuse of animals and workers has been to outlaw the investigations rather than to improve practices. In 2011, a large coalition of animal protection, first amendment, workers’ rights, and environmental groups defeated these laws in Florida, Minnesota, Iowa, and New York. In 2013, we beat back 11 bills. In 2014, we expect to beat back even more.

STATE LEGISLATION IN 2014

We’re hard at work with HSUS, the ASPCA, and other animal protection groups to ban the worst abuses of farm animals in more states, and to beat back any Ag Gag bills that are proposed.

ANIMAL PROTECTION LEGISLATION HISTORY


Since Farm Sanctuary partnered with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida on the first state ban on a factory farming practice — the ban on gestation crates in Florida in 2002 — momentum has spread to get rid of some of the worst abuses of farm animals.

In 2004, we led the charge to ban both the production and sale of foie gras in California. Then in 2006, again partnering with HSUS, we followed our landslide Florida victory with a ban on both gestation and veal crates in Arizona. The year 2008 was our biggest challenge yet, working to ban cruel confinement systems in California, the country’s top agricultural state. Working with HSUS, we banned veal and gestation crates, and battery cages, and the measure passed by the highest margin of any other citizen initiative in California history.

Since that time, six more states have banned gestation crates (Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Ohio, and Rhode Island), five more have banned veal crates (Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, Maine, and Rhode Island), and one has banned battery cages (Michigan).

ANTI-ANIMAL LEGISLATION


Unfortunately, there has also been an outpouring of anti-animal bills, called “Ag Gag” or “whistleblower suppression” bills. These bills are designed to criminalize undercover investigations. The factory farmers’ response to exposés showing illegal abuse of animals and workers has been to outlaw the investigations rather than to improve practices. In 2011, a large coalition of animal protection, first amendment, workers’ rights, and environmental groups defeated these laws in Florida, Minnesota, Iowa, and New York. In 2013, we beat back 11 bills. In 2014, we expect to beat back even more.