Survey shows overwhelming support for humanely raised foods

Congressional briefing celebrates American farmers and ranchers and encourages wider use of humane certification for billions more farm animals

America loves Thanksgiving – the holiday that celebrates American traditions, family togetherness and gratitude for the unparalleled bounty of our great nation. As Thanksgiving approaches this year, American Humane Association went to Capitol Hill to urge Americans to set a humane table for the holidays and support humane farm practices.

Joined by the CEOs and leaders of major organizations involved in food production, as well as small, medium and large farmers and producers who have committed to raising animals humanely,  one of America’s most recognized award-winning top chefs, and some of the nation’s foremost animal welfare pioneers, “The Humane Table” congressional briefing celebrated and gave thanks to American farmers and ranchers who not only put food on our families’ tables, but who work to put the “heart” in “heartland” by providing food that is safe, abundant, affordable and humanely raised under ethical, commonsense and scientifically demonstrated standards. American Humane Association also released the 2014 Humane Heartland Farm Animal Survey of nearly 6,000 Americans, showing overwhelming support for humanely raised foods.

“In America, we have much for which to give thanks, including the unparalleled bounty of our great nation,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “As Thanksgiving approaches this year, we want to recognize and thank those enlightened farmers and ranchers who feed our families and do it in a way that is in line with our values of compassion and caring. Despite their invaluable work of feeding the world, farmers often get criticism when things go wrong and too rarely get praise for when they do things right. We must end abuse and discourage poor farming practices, but it is also important to praise those who get it right and encourage other farmers and ranchers to follow best practices. We recognize, too, that families have choices in what they wish to eat, but we also believe that all animals – those in our homes, those serving in our nation’s military, and those raised on our farms and ranches – deserve to be humanely treated. We call on the more than 95 percent of Americans who do choose to eat eggs, meat and dairy products to set a humane table this year with humanely raised foods and support producers committed to farm animal welfare.” 

At the briefing, farmers and ranchers joined animal agriculture organizations, retailers  and “Top Chef Master” winner Chef Douglas Keane to speak about the benefits of good farm animal welfare and the work to advance safe, affordable and humanly raised food.

“In order to set a humane table across the country we need to first help support consumers to question how their food is being raised; then we must create a user-friendly environment to assist in making the right decisions,” said Chef Keane. Humane certifications are a giant step towards this goal.”

Dr. J. Michael McFarland, veterinarian, Group Director, CAD Veterinary Operations at Zoetis and American Humane Association board member, talked about the need for everyone to be involved in raising the level of animal welfare.

“Safeguarding animal wellbeing is a commitment we all share,” said Dr. McFarland. “We emphasize the importance of animal wellbeing on all size farms; and we collectively advocate for a safe and affordable food system in America. To ensure success, it’s key to have the active involvement of industry to find appropriate solutions. We wish you, your families, and your friends a happy Thanksgiving.”

National Survey results

Furthermore, a new national survey of 5,900 Americans released by American Humane Association shows overwhelming popular support for the humane treatment of farm animals and humanely raised foods. The 2014 Humane Heartland Farm Animal Survey, the second conducted by American Humane Association reveals that more than nine in ten respondents (94.9%) were very concerned about farm animal welfare, up from 89 percent in the 2013 study.  More than three-quarters (75.7%) stated that they were very willing to pay more for humanely raised eggs, meat, and dairy products, up from 74 percent last year. And for the second year in a row, in a ranking of the importance of food labels, “humanely raised” scored highest, over “antibiotic-free,” “organic,” and “natural.”  Impediments to people’s choosing humane products was also explored: While one-third of those surveyed (35.3%) said they did purchase humanely raised foods, more than half (54.6%) said they were either not available (35.6%) or too expensive (19%).  Nearly one in ten (9%) said they did not know the difference.

Marking the celebration and demonstrating American Humane Certified producers’ commitment to both animals and people, Butterball, Eggland’s Best, and Red Barn Family Farms, Appleton, Wisconsin made generous holiday donations to The D.C. Central Kitchen. Butterball contributed 150 whole turkeys, Eggland’s Best sent over 5,000 eggs, and Red Barn Family Farms, Appleton, Wisconsin sent more than 1,000 individually wrapped cheddar cheese sticks, all of which will feed hundreds of needy, local Washington families.

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