Behind the Label is a new series from HRN that transports listeners from the grocery store aisle to the farm - explaining what it means for broiler chickens at Springer Mountain Farms, and all animals, to be raised humanely.
Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, the country's first national animal welfare organization, chats with Lisa Held, a seasoned agriculture reporter, about humane standards on the farm. Together, they bring together scientists and welfare experts to answer questions on the science behind welfare standards, the farm auditing process, and how humane food arrives at a grocery store near you. The episodes are chock-full of information relevant to consumers and farmers alike, but they also contain some surprising facts about the history of animal welfare and the role of American Humane today.
- American Humane was founded in 1877 as the country’s first national humane organization. Today, as part of the American Humane Certified program they certify nearly 1 billion farm animals every year - that includes 15-20,000 farms and ranches across the country. However, nearly 90% of U.S. farm animals are still raised without such independently verified standards.
- American Humane was founded when local organizations came together, identifying a need to have a national voice for animals. At the time, concern was particularly focused on animals being shipped across state lines on the country’s new railroad system. Big flocks and herds of farm animals were being transported cross-country without requirements to stop for food and water.
- Another early advocacy project taken on by American Humane was the construction of “humane fountains” that are still found in many city squares today. They were designed as one of many improvements to the care of horses used by public offices like the fire department, police department and even the post office.
- In 1886, American Humane began advocating for the rights of children as well. Over the next decade, American Humane worked to legislate protections for child stage performers, demanded the end of corporal punishment in schools, and campaigned to raise awareness about infanticide. In the early 20th century, American Humane was at the forefront of calls to pass national child labor laws.
- American Humane helped protect Army animals during World War I. The U.S. Secretary of War asked American Humane to go overseas “to undertake the work of doing for Army animals what the American Red Cross is doing for soldiers.” They went to Europe to provide care and triage for 68,000 wounded war horses every month.
- In 1941, the Association of Motion Picture Producers approved American Humane’s access to all movie sets involving animals. Today, American Humane oversees animal welfare on over 1,000 productions per year. You may be familiar with their “No Animals Were Harmed” end-credit certification. American Humane also hosts the “Pawscars” awards to recognize the best performances by furry, winged and scaled actors.
- American Humane began providing therapy dogs to veterans during World War II. Today, American Humane continues to pair dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD. American Humane also puts protections in place for military dogs who work with soldiers to help serve our country.
- In 1958, The Humane Slaughter Act was signed into federal law. This was a major victory for American Humane that was many years in the making. The act requires animals to be rendered unconscious before they are slaughtered.
- The American Humane Certified program was founded in 2000 and celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Springer Mountain Farms became the world’s first poultry producer to become American Humane Certified in 2001. Their chickens are raised on a vegetarian diet and are antibiotic-free. You can hear about the relationship between Springer Mountain Farms and American Humane on Episode 4 of Behind the Label.
- During Covid-19, American Humane stepped up to identify and serve the needs of animals as they have done during national crises before, by saving the lives of animals during World War I, Pearl Harbor, and 9/11. Now, they’re assisting animal rescue shelters by raising funds for supplies like food, cat litter, and medical supplies.
Learn more when you listen to Behind The Label with American Humane wherever you get your podcasts.