Currently, few animal products feature legitimate animal welfare certifications, leaving consumers confused about what products meet their ethical standards. Most animal welfare claims cannot be trusted, but a few can. The most rigorous and comprehensive certification today is the Animal Welfare Approved Program of the non-profit, A Greener World. While AWI has provided a gold standard, its penetration of the market has been limited, in part because it offers only a single standard of welfare instead of a tiered system. Farm Forward recommends Animal Welfare Approved products for those who eat meat but our energies have been spent trying to develop a complimentary certification that would not only certify the best of the best (as AWI does), but utilize a tiered system to communicate to consumers the full range of welfare standards available.
To this end, Farm Forward has played an important role in growing what is now the nation’s largest animal welfare certification, Global Animal Partnership (GAP). GAP now oversees the welfare standards that shape the lives of more than 290 million animals. We have worked with GAP both as consultants providing thousands of hours of pro bono and at-cost support, and in our capacity as a member of GAP’s multi-stakeholder board to help grow the organization and to constantly press for improvements in its signature 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards. Farm Forward Chairman, Steve Gross is a founding member of the GAP Board of Directors. In 2015 our work resulted in the top tiers of GAP’s new turkey standards, Step 5 and Step 5+, becoming among the strictest in the world, requiring slower growth rates and prohibiting artificial insemination for turkeys. The cumulative impact of these changes is that GAP will now only award its highest turkey ratings to heritage birds.
“Farm Forward’s presence on the GAP board has been instrumental in navigating the organization through some of the most critical improvements in animal welfare in the market in the United States to date. They’ve played a vital role in the organization’s leadership and management, and continue to guide GAP’s moral compass.”
Leah Garces, Executive Director of Compassion in World Farming USA
In March 2016 GAP announced a landmark pledge to phase out by 2024 the fastest-growing strains of chickens, which currently account for more than 99 percent of chicken meat sold in the U.S. Once in effect this change will affect 270 million birds annually—even more as the program continues to grow over time.
We pioneered the efforts that ultimately led to this historic announcement, which includes a commitment by Whole Foods Market to follow the new standard. As the first national organization to focus on poultry genetics, Farm Forward has pushed to make the return to genetically healthy birds a central aspect of GAP’s 5-Step® standards since GAP’s inception.