Comprehensive Guide to Animal Welfare Certification

As demand for better farm animal treatment rises, the ASPCA® and Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems release in-depth guide for farmers interested in welfare certification

ASPCA® The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®

ASPCA® The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®


The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®

Comprehensive guide for farmers

Today the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) released a comprehensive guide for farmers seeking to better understand or obtain animal welfare certification.

The demand for higher animal welfare and transparency in the food system is on the rise as consumers become more concerned about inhumane factory farming practices. Recent research shows consumers are increasingly looking for labels that certify higher animal welfare standards, and major food retailers and suppliers are frequently making public commitments to source from producers of more humanely raised products.

Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide

The new ASPCA/CAFS « Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide, » available in hard copy and digital formats, helps farmers assess and compare independent welfare certification programs in order to meet these new market demands. The guide lays out the operational and business considerations of becoming welfare-certified and offers an in-depth look at the standards and requirements of three animal welfare certifications in the United States: Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane® and Global Animal Partnership.

« Farm animal welfare certification is a triple win – it gives farmers a way to stand out in the marketplace; it enables consumers to identify products with meaningful labeling claims; and, most importantly, certification programs promote improved farm animal welfare, » said Daisy Freund, Director, ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Program.

The « Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide » also features:

  • A side-by-side comparison of certification programs across key administrative criteria to help farmers decide which program might work for their businesses.
  • Standards comparison charts, organized by species, which highlight the range of higher-welfare standards required by the different certifications.
  • Case studies that illustrate how other farmers have integrated welfare certification into their businesses. These farmers include: Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs, Mary’s Free Range Chicken, Echo Farm Puddings, Cold Spring Ranch, Kinderhook Farm, and Stark Hollow Farm.
  • Resources to identify funding opportunities to support welfare certification transition efforts.

« This guide is meant for the busy farmer or business leader who wants a concise, plain-spoken summary of why certification programs are worth participating in, how they work, what they cost, and why a farm business might choose one program over another, »

said CAFS Director Laurie Ristino.

« Notably, it is for farms looking to enhance their animal husbandry practices as well as those that seek recognition for existing operations. »

« Farm Aid is grateful to add this helpful tool for family farmers to our Farmer Resource Network and hotline, »

said Farm Aid’s executive director Carolyn Mugar.

« Farmers are eager to deliver what eaters are looking for, and they can increase the sustainability of their practices and their livelihoods through welfare certification programs. This guide, crafted with the careful input of farmers from around the country, will be essential to help farmers choose the program that’s right for them. »

The ASPCA/CAFS « Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide » can be accessed through the ASPCA website at An informational webinar will be held in January/February 2017. Those interested in learning more may email

ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Program’s

The ASPCA/CAFS « Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide » is part of the ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Program‘s ongoing commitment to informing consumers, corporations, lawmakers and farmers about solutions that will improve the lives of the more than 9 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. each year, the vast majority of which exist in inhumane factory-like facilities. In October 2016, the ASPCA collaborated with Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), a Chicago-based national nonprofit organization, to provide grants up to $2,500 to qualifying livestock and poultry farmers seeking to attain Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane and Global Animal Partnership (Steps 4 – 5+) certification through FACT’s Fund-a-Farmer Program. Grant recipients will be announced in spring 2017.

Also in 2016, the ASPCA introduced « Shop With Your Heart, » a campaign which aims to educate consumers and encourage anyone who buys meat, eggs, and dairy to seek out products that carry third-party-verified certifications that represent better farming practices (including Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane®, and Global Animal Partnership (Step 2 and above), and to purchase more plant-based alternatives.

About the ASPCA®

Founded in 1866 the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About CAFS

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School supports scholars and practitioners in producing practical, robust scholarship for use by the food and agriculture community. CAFS offers an expanding curriculum in food and agriculture for law and policy students, and training and legal tools to help build sustainable local and regional food systems. For more information about the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, visit or email

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