There doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by without some announcement about new commitments to improving the lives of farm animals. It’s really exciting to see. We’ve seen a lot of interest in the farm animal welfare labeling programs in particular, including G.A.P.’s unique 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating Program. Still, not all of that interest has translated into questions or conversations coming directly to us. For that reason, we’ve launched a “Did You Know?” series to answer some of the questions we get, some things we see misrepresented about G.A.P. and/or the program, and some things we think you would be interested in hearing about. If you’ve got questions you’d like us to answer, then please let us know!
You’ll see a question and answer from us every Thursday, so drop by and let us know what you think. We look forward to the discussion.!
Did You Know? for this week:
Did you know that in order to use the Global Animal Partnership label, everything about the product needs to be certified? This means that EVERY farm that raises animals to provide the product (whether it’s steak, turkey sausages, bacon, pet food etc.) has to pass an audit by one of G.A.P.’s third-party certifiers once every 15 months. As well, the ENTIRE LIFE of the animal has to be certified. Most companies that sell meat and meat products to grocery stores, restaurants, food service, or food manufacturers use a variety of farms or farmer groups to do this. Some of these farms may raise the animal from breeding right through to finishing, but many of them specialize in a particular segment of the animal’s life. For example, many beef ranches classify themselves as cow-calf operations. This means that they breed the cows and birth the calves, but will then sell the calves onto another ranch once the animal is weaned – generally when it weighs between 600 – 800 lbs. The next ranch will get the animals used to different feeds and raise them for a couple of months until it’s ~1000 lbs. (often referred to as ‘backgrounding’), and then they will go on to a finishing location until they’re ~1200 lbs. In order to sell the beef with a G.A.P. Step rating, the cow-calf, backgrounder and finishing operations would all need to be certified before the product could be labeled as being Step rated.
Here’s a snapshot of what this looks like in the G.A.P. program by Step rating. We’ve also included information about our pork operations, which also have farms that do it all, and others that specialize in a typical part of a pigs life.
Number of Certified Operations by Step Rating and Operation Type