How does the 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating Program Work?

The Program has different tiers – or steps – that represent the different ways and types of farming systems animals are raised in on farms. Every farm involved in raising beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, bison, and laying hens has to have an third-party audit to verify they meet the GAP standards, every 15 months. Each farm is certified to the highest step level they can achieve and is encouraged to move up the step tiers whenever possible. The Program is a way for consumers to be reassured that the meat and eggs they buy in stores and at restaurants has been raised to standards that provide for the animal and the environment in which they live.

What are the consumer benefits of the 5-Step® Animal Welfare Program?

The 5-Step® labels provide a clear description of how animals are raised – whether that be indoors, indoor/outdoor or pasture raised. Our innovative rating system promotes continuous improvement in animal agriculture while linking consumers with the farming practices they choose to support.

How can I tell if a product is Step-rated?

Look for the distinct 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating labels on pre-packaged products and on signs in the fresh meat case.

I'd like to support your work! How can I get involved?

Thank you! As a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Global Animal Partnership needs your financial support to continue to work to improve the well-being of animals in agriculture, support higher welfare farmers and ranchers, broaden consumer choice, and partner with retail leaders. Donations can be made via our secure donation page or through the mail. We also welcome you to subscribe to our e-newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Are step-rated products organic?

Under our 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating Program, some farms and ranches may hold organic certification but we do not require them to be certified organic.

Are Global Animal Partnership Step-rated products non-GMO?

Under our 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating Program, some farms and ranches may hold non-GMO certification but we do not require them to be certified non-GMO.

I’m a producer interested in being audited and certified. What do I need to do?

Please visit our 5-Step® Animal Welfare Standards page and download an application and the standards for the species you will be raising. Then contact one of the certification companies listed on our 5-Step certification page to discuss and schedule an audit.

Why aren’t there 5-Step® standards for dairy cows and other animals?

We will be creating 5-Step® Animal Welfare Standards for additional species under the 5-Step® Animal Welfare Program in the future. New species standards will be available for viewing on our Animal Welfare Standards page when complete.

Why did GAP choose to work with third-party certification companies instead of auditing and certifying on its own?

As the standard-setter, we feel that working with authorized, independent certifiers strengthens the integrity of the program, which benefits the producers, retailers, and consumers alike.

Is this animal welfare system just for Whole Foods?

No. Whole Foods Market has played a vital role in the creation of GAP’s 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating Standards and continues to be an invaluable contributor to our work. Our approach to improving the lives of farm animals is making significant strides. More than ever, farm animal welfare is emerging as a pillar of importance to other companies in the retail sector. We are working right now to expand the reach our program by partnering with more retailers in the marketplace.