The HSUS and Humane Society International are about protecting all animals, including farm animals. We work with food retailers, institutional investors, humane-minded farmers, and others to make a difference, and in 2015, we saw our greatest progress yet in the arena of farm animal welfare. As we finish the year, here’s a look back at our top achievements of the year:
1. Corporate America says, ‘no more battery cages’
Our 2015 private sector outreach led some of the food industry’s top names—McDonald’s, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Qdoba Mexican Eats, TGI Fridays, Panera Bread, Aramark, Sodexo, Compass Group, General Mills, Kellogg’s, and more— to announce timelines for eliminating battery cages from their supply chains by switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs.
2. Top egg producers embrace a cage-free future
We helped Michael Foods—the nation’s largest processed egg provider—announce it’ll work with its clients and suppliers to transition to cage-free housing. Likewise, Rose Acre Farms (the second-largest egg producer), announced it is converting to 100 percent cage-free production, as did Rembrandt Foods (the third-largest egg producer).
3. Holding the line against ag-gag measures
Once again this year, as in past years, ag-gag bills seeking to gag whistleblowers who expose cruelty and abuse on factory farms were introduced in several states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Washington. We helped stop them all, except in North Carolina where the legislature overturned a gubernatorial veto of the measure.
4. Food service companies and schools support Meatless Monday
We hosted 18 “Food Forward” events nationwide, training nearly 700 food service professionals in implementing programs like Meatless Monday, to reduce the suffering of animals on factory farms. We also helped dozens of entire school districts launch meatless days, including some of the nation’s largest—like Dallas and Fort Worth. We partnered with Compass Group, the world’s largest food service company, to create and launch a plant-based dining station for its education and business accounts. And we launched our first-ever culinary training boot camp for professional chefs, a two-day crash course to help institutional food service providers create delicious, meat-free food that’s good for their guests, for their bottom line, and for animals.
5. Walmart wades into animal welfare
Walmart—both the world’s largest company and America’s largest grocery chain—dominates more than a quarter of the grocery market. Our work with the retail giant led it to announce a policy supporting the “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare, which include giving animals the freedom to express natural behaviors—something prohibited by practices like gestation crates and battery cages. While Walmart still has a ways to go—especially in terms of adopting timelines for eliminating practices contradictory to the Five Freedoms—this first step is a groundbreaking one for one of the world’s largest companies.
6. The HSUS breaks ground in battle against Big Pork
The National Pork Board (a “checkoff” organization prohibited from lobbying) handed over its “Pork: The Other White Meat” slogan to the National Pork Producers Council (a lobby group that defends cruel practices like gestation crates). Then, after the campaign had nearly run its course, the NPPC sold the slogan back to the Pork Board for a staggering $60 million. We co-filed a lawsuit to halt this illegal money-laundering scheme, and in 2015 we won a major court ruling clearing the way for the suit to move forward.
7. Financial giants join The HSUS in fixing food system
In 2015, our work with top financial firms led to a “Humane Economy” symposium at the corporate headquarters of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. Executives from financial groups representing $17 trillion in combined assets—about the same as America’s entire GDP—spend the day discussing the negative financial impacts of battery cage confinement and other factory farming practices. As well, our work with venture capital and other investment firms drove tens of millions of dollars into important plant-based food start-ups.
8. Cruelty egg-sposed to the masses
Our undercover investigation at a Hillandale-owned factory egg farm drew major national attention to laying hens’ plight. ABC’s Nightline aired a feature on the investigation, and celebrities ranging from Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling to Bill Maher, Steve-O and Sia all weighed in, asking Costco to accelerate its transition to a cage-free future.
9. Battling for birds (and other animals) in the Bay State
We, along with our coalition partners, turned in 133,000 signatures in a major step to qualify a landmark Massachusetts ballot initiative to ban the cage confinement of farm animals and the sale of products coming from such systems. More than 1,000 volunteers did spadework and footwork to get twice the number of signatures needed to get to the next stage in the process of putting this measure on the November 2016 ballot.
10. Driving changes across the globe
Of course, our work to create a better world for farm animals must be global. Our work led JBS—the world’s largest meat processor and the second-largest Brazilian pork producer—to announce that 100 percent of its supply chain will be free of gestation crates by 2025, and to make some initial moves against surgical castration and teeth-clipping of piglets. We also helped Blumenau, Brazil, ban the production of foie gras.
11. Fighting factory farming by enlisting humane-minded farmers in the battle
Our Rural Development and Outreach team led the charge to successfully stop the lifting of the ban on packers owning livestock in Nebraska, helped to pass the first-ever moratorium on factory farms at the county level (Wisconsin), helped generate Real Food Campus Commitments at a number of universities, and launched new agriculture advisory councils in Michigan and in the Pacific Northwest.
The mainstream media and even our adversaries recognize The HSUS as the biggest force there is driving change for farm animals. The editor of a major meat industry trade journal said that “HSUS has almost single-handedly forced pork producers to change their policies. A Politico reporter noted that “[r]epeat egg industry losses — at the voting booth, in the courts and in public eye —shows how effective HSUS has been in pushing its agenda.”
But even as we celebrate our victories, we realize there is a lot more work that remains to be done toward ending extreme farm animal confinement. In 2016, you can be sure that The HSUS will continue to push for change with the same earnestness and strategic planning you have come to expect of us, to improve the world for farm animals.