Farm Sanctuary Speaks Out on USDA Labeling Guidelines — Have Your Say

Citizens are appalled to learn of the horrendous suffering that is commonplace in the production of meat, milk, and eggs, and they are increasingly looking for alternatives. Agribusiness has responded by marketing animal products with labels suggesting that farm animals are being treated well. But these labels make conditions sound better than they are, and well-meaning consumers are being misled.

The USDA is currently accepting public input on proposed labeling guidelines that are woefully inadequate, and Farm Sanctuary is encouraging citizens to weigh in and express their opinions. We’ve submitted the comments below.


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You can read more about the proposed guidelines and submit comments, which are due by December 5, 2016, here.

Notes from the Frontline: Campaigning for Farm Sanctuary

Farm animal confinement: Veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages

By Dallas Ryan, Farm Sanctuary Intern

I had no idea what to expect. I was in Massachusetts, sent by Farm Sanctuary to collect signatures. The thought of going up to complete strangers and asking them for their support seemed rather nerve-wracking. Stepping outside my comfort zone and doing it anyway, however, led me to quickly realize just how rewarding campaigning and gathering signatures is, especially if done in the name of something you truly believe in.

Signature-gathering for animals

The author with a compassionate signer!

Whether it was outside the local grocery store or walking on campus, most people have had some sort of encounter with signature-gatherers. The reactions of those walking by are always mixed: Some hurriedly say no, while others ignore.

And then there are those who stop to learn more. Though signatures are our goal, I know our mere presence is making a sizable difference in the public’s awareness – even among those who walk right on by. If, just for a second, I allowed them see something they had never seen or thought twice about before, that is success. For all I know, they could have looked up our efforts online later that day and spread the word during dinner. These types of reminders are important to keep in mind, especially when one finds the job exhausting or when the number of failed attempts to reach people becomes discouraging.

The best and most reassuring reminder of all: why you’re standing there and who you’re standing up for.

For me, other Farm Sanctuary volunteers, and the many others involved in this particular campaign, it’s the animals on factory farms in Massachusetts suffering every day from cruel and inhumane confinement practices. As part of the Citizens for Farm Animal Protection – a broad coalition of non-profit organizations, farmers and businesses, community leaders, and grassroots activists – we are working to enact a ballot measure in Massachusetts that will ban three of the most cruel and inhumane confinement practices used on factory farms: veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages.

Signature-gathering for animals

A concerned Massachusetts resident signs the petition!

All those offering their signatures and spreading the word are helping us make sure calves are no longer taken from their mothers and placed in crates designed to keep them deprived and immobilized for the remainder of their lives.

Everyone signing is helping to protect pigs, highly intelligent creatures who need a certain level of mental stimulation (like humans), from being subjected to gestation crates built only about two feet wide.

And of course, citizens’ support is also helping us ban battery cages and protect hens from being crammed, five or more hens to a single cage, with dimensions that allow each animal less space than the size of a standard piece of paper.

If this law is passed, Massachusetts will join ten other U.S. states that have already passed laws to address these kinds of inhumane practices. The opportunity to save these animals from horrible suffering makes all the hard work involved in campaigning more than worth it. At the end of the day, all I have to do is remember how many animals are depending on me to be their voice and end their suffering. And this is what has and will continue to keep me going, one signature at a time.

Thanks to the efforts of Dallas and hundreds of others, the Coalition was successful in gathering all the required signatures in the first portion of the ballot initiative process. Stay tuned for updates!

Want to intern to help farm animals? Learn about Farm Sanctuary’s internship program.

Something to Crow About! Miyoko Schinner on Farm Animal Adoption

Miyoko Schinner with her rescued chickensVegan cheesemonger, chef, cookbook author, and television host Miyoko Schinner has spent the better part of the past three decades promoting delicious, decadent, and healthful plant-based foods. But did you know she’s also a chicken rescuer? The founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen recently opened her heart and home to two roosters (Satchmo and Bird) and Bessie hen, whom she adopted through Farm Sanctuary’s Farm Animal Adoption Network.

Who was the first farm animal you adopted and why?

We started adopting hens about six or seven years ago. Our first was Snookie — she’s still around, and is the smartest chicken on the planet. It was actually my husband’s idea to adopt chickens, and he took a chicken class, so we would know what to do. We had the room, and we’ve both always had this little secret desire to surround ourselves with different animals. (I’ve actually fantasized about it.) We’ve rescued chickens from hoarders, factory farms, and so-called “free-range” farms. Until now (we just moved to a farm from the ‘burbs), we were only allowed to have hens, so that determined the species we adopted. We are hoping to adopt larger animals once we get settled into our house, get the barn ready, and learn a bit more about the needs of the different species of individuals we might adopt.

What differences and similarities do you see between companion animals and farm animals?

I didn’t know before we started adopting chickens how complex their vocabulary was. Since then, I’ve learned the meaning of their different sounds and how they communicate to each other to warn about predators, to announce the laying of an egg, to tell others when they’ve found a tasty treat. We underestimate the ability of farm animals to have language just because it’s different from ours or our companion animals. While many of the chickens we’ve had don’t seem inclined to cuddle up, we have had some individuals (Gloria, Amazing Grace, and others) who follow us around, jump into our laps, want to be stroked. They are as different in personality as any humans or companion animals. We just lump them all together as chickens because most of us don’t have the opportunity to get to know them.

What do you see as the long-term implications people should consider when adopting farm animals?

I think it’s important to know what you are doing. Different species have different needs, and it’s important to know what you’re getting into! Make sure you have the time, patience, and resources to care for them. I don’t have experience with species other than chickens, so I’m not an expert. But I hope to be!

Beyond adopting farm animals in need and making delicious plant-based foods, Schinner also helps animals by giving back to animal protection charities! Miyoko’s Kitchen donates 1% of online sales to a different nonprofit each month (through November, it’s Farm Sanctuary!). In December, the company will double that donation to the nonprofit that receives the most votes in its online poll! Please vote now to help Farm Sanctuary!