Global Animal Partnership’s formula for creating practical animal welfare standards
If you are a livestock manager, rancher or farmer and thinking about joining the Global Animal Partnership Program, one of the first things you will probably do is read the Standards to see what they are about and where your farm might fit. But who is involved in creating these animal welfare standards in the first place, and are farmers part of this process?
The simple answer is yes. The GAP Farm Team has a rigorous process for setting standards – one that involves input from lots of experts – including farmers – to make sure we have clear, transparent and practical standards. At each stage of our process, we ask the farming community for feedback, and together with input from animal scientists, veterinarians, nutritionists and our other stakeholders, the result is a set of standards that blends the best scientific and practical knowledge currently available.
Here’s our formula for putting together practical animal welfare standards:
Research & Development: Our Farm Team starts drafting a preliminary outline. We consult with farmers, scientists and our certifiers for initial input, as well as review the latest research and industry developments.
Review: The Farm Team then drafts the standard and goes back to the farmers, scientists and certifiers for their preliminary thoughts on what works, what will be a challenge, and what might benefit from further clarification.
On-Farm Testing: Next we take the standards and test them in-the-field. We work with several different farm groups, located in different parts of the country, to gather more information about how the standard will work in reality. Our Farm Team visits a number of farms and ranches to ‘test’ the standard out in a true farm setting.
Public Comment: The Farm Team then posts the standard for public comment on our website, soliciting feedback from the wider farming community as well as retailers, food service, animal advocacy groups, scientists, veterinarians and other experts.
Revision: After the on-farm testing and public comment period, the Farm Team reviews and addresses the concerns that were raised during that process and complete a final draft standard.
Approval: The Farm Team presents the final draft standard to the GAP Board of Directors for review and approval. Once approved by the Board, the standard is posted on our website and is ready to be used.
We use this same process for a new standard as for revising and updating an existing standard. Updates are not only posted on our website once approved, but GAP also distributes updates to all farmers and ranchers that are currently certified.
As you can tell, lots of factors are considered as GAP develops a set of animal welfare standards and it takes time. Creating a good set of standards means a lot of drafts, testing and communication to get it right, but we can’t do that without the invaluable insights of our farmers and ranchers. Remember, when standards are posted for public comment on our website, be sure to give us your input, we want to hear from you!