ANIMAL WELFARE APPROVED OFFERS GRANTS FOR FARMERS TO MAKE WELFARE IMPROVEMENTS
Animal Welfare Approved is calling for proposals for its 2012-2013 Good Husbandry Grants. Now in its fifth year, the Good Husbandry Grants program has funded over one hundred projects across the country to improve farm animal welfare. Certified farmers and those who have submitted an application for AWA certification may apply for up to $5,000 towards projects such as mobile housing, breeding stock, and on-farm processing equipment. Slaughter plants working with or seeking to work with AWA farmers are also eligible for funding.
"The grants program gives farmers the creativity to try new ideas without betting the farm, which we think is crucial to our development. We're glad we have the opportunity to support our farmers," says Program Director Andrew Gunther.
The funding priorities for this year's cycle include welfare improvements in the slaughter process, improved genetics, increased outdoor access, and non-lethal predator control. A primary goal of this grant program is to facilitate the growth and success of high-welfare, pasture-based systems. Gunther explains, "The biggest challenge in agriculture right now is getting animals outside. The science tells us that when farm animals are responsibly managed on open pasture or range, a whole host of challenges inherent in industrial agriculture simply disappear. For instance, the incidence of pathogenic E. coli is much lower in pasture-based systems, and animals are proven to have higher welfare. This ultimately leads to more nutritious, healthier products."
In Siler City, NC, Okfuskee Farm's 2011-2012 Good Husbandry Grant funded the construction of new huts that have resulted in great improvement for welfare of piglets and sows. Previously, sows were farrowing in the woods and the farm experienced significant losses, but after completion of the huts, the farm reports much higher survival rates. AWA's Good Husbandry Grants program will also continue its focus on welfare improvements in the slaughter process. "As a birth through slaughter program we are aiming to put funding towards new stunning and hoisting equipment, improving the flow of animal movement through the plant, and redesign of the knock to ensure high welfare at slaughter," says AWA Lead Auditor Tim Holmes.
Another 2011-2012 grant awarded to Windy N Ranch in Ellensburg, WA, funded the purchase of new night shelters for poultry. This has resulted in a reduction in predation and an increase in bird productivity. Additionally, a grant awarded to Sequatchie Cove Farm in Sequatchie, TN, has allowed the farm to purchase a breeding Devon bull, which has improved the overall viability of the breed and has allowed the farm to focus on improving the milking aspect of this dual-purpose breed.
Farmers and slaughter plants interested in applying should visit the Animal Welfare Approved Good Husbandry Grants page (www.animalwelfareapproved.org/farmers/grants-for-farmers) or contact Grants Coordinator Emily Lancaster at Emily@AnimalWelfareApproved.org or (202) 618-4497.