American Humane regroups as Humane Farm Animal Care takes lead on farm care

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2003:

ENGLEWOOD, Colorado– American Humane on
February 10, 2004 announced the hiring of former
American Red Cross interim chief executive
officer Marie Belew Wheatley as president and CEO.
“At the Red Cross, Wheatley served as a
national disaster response officer,” wrote
American Humane public information manager Anna
Gonce. “Wheatley worked with many volunteer
organizations, including American Humane, to
care for animals affected by disasters.”
Ten days after introducing Wheatley,
American Humane announced receipt of a grant of
$50,000 from the U.S. Department of Education
Fund for the Improvement of Education. Secured
by Colorado U.S. Senators Wayne Allard and Ben
Nighthorse Campbell, the money will be used “to
expand existing educational programs that help
students and communities learn to prepare for and
care for animals during disasters,” Gonce said.
The Wheatley hiring followed extensive
restructuring at American Humane that included
the separate resignations in June 2003 of former
president and CEO Tim O’Brien and former Film &
TV Unit chief Karen Goschen, after the earlier
departure of Free Farmed program founder Adele

Longtime American Humane Film & TV Unit
staff member Karen Rosa succeeded Goshen. Former
Colorado Pork Producers Council executive
director Elena Metro was hired in November 2003
to manage Free Farmed, which after almost a year
of inactivity must rebuild consumer recognition,
industry participation, and credibility with
animal advocates.
Technically the current Free Farmed
program is not even the same program that
Douglass started, George Washington University
Law School professor Michael Selmi told ANIMAL
PEOPLE. The original Free Farmed program, Selmi
said, “was created and operated by Farm Animal
Services, a separate nonprofit corporation.”
This entity terminated on August 31, 2003.

HFAC standards

Adele Douglass, Washington D.C. office
director for American Humane from 1986 to 2002,
went on to found Humane Farm Animal Care. Backed
by the American SPCA and the Humane Society of
the U.S., as well as numerous local and regional
humane organizations, HFAC by the end of 2003
was already certifying beef, dairy, egg,
broiler chicken, wool/mutton, pork, and turkey
producers–a wider range than any other humane
certification pprogram. On January 1, 2004,
HFAC moved into larger quarters at 1043 Sterling
Road, #204, Herndon, VA 20170; 703-435-3883;
fax 703-435-3981.
The HFAC poultry standards are similar to
those promoted from 1983 to 2002 by the now
defunct Nest Eggs subsidiary of the Chicago-based
Food Animal Concerns Trust. FACT was a founding
participant in the annual Summit for the Animals
convocation of animal rights organization heads,
but activist expectations have increased enough
since then that the HFAC standards have been
prominently criticized by United Poultry Concerns
founder Karen Davis, activist writer Eileen
Weintraub, Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary
cofounder Terry Cummings, Farmed Animal Watch
editor Mary Finelli, and Eastern Shore
Sanctuary & Education Center founder Pattrice
Le-Muire Jones.
“Our chickens do not have to be
free-range. They can be barn-raised,” Douglass
told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “but they are not raised on
concrete floors. They have deep litter. For
free range, there needs to be a lot of land,
because field rotation has to be done for the
benefit of the chickens and the environment. As
for what they eat, we do not allow any avian
parts. We verify that on our inspections.”
Douglass pointed out that HFAC standards
exist to encourage farmers to do whatever they
can be persuaded to do here and now to ease the
misery of farm animals, not to define ideal
conditions. HFAC does not prohibit debeaking,
for instance, because under present market
conditions, with present barn designs, few
farmers of commercial scale could comply. Once
enough farmers meet the first basic standards,
more advanced standards can be introduced.
United Egg Producers
United Egg Producers, an industry front,
meanwhile introduced an “Animal Care Certified”
claim and logo. The UEP program enrolled 190
participants, but in July 2003 one participant,
Colorado Natural Eggs CEO Cynthia Szymanski,
accused UEP in an open letter of “false
advertising and a blatant attempt to mislead egg
buyers and consumers.”
Compassion Over Killing took the UEP
“Animal Care Certified” program to the National
Advertising Division of the Council of Better
Business Bureaus.
On November 24, 2003, the National
Advertising Review Council, the first level of
Council of Better Business Bureaus review
process, announced that “NAD determined that the
‘animal care’ message conveyedÅ was misleading and
that consumers concerned about the treatment of
animals could reasonably take away the message
that the hens who produce the eggs in cartons
bearing the seal are treated to a more humane
level of care than that which is afforded by the
animal husbandry guidelines adopted by the UEP.
Consequently, NAD recommended that the use of
the ‘Animal Care Certified’ claim be
The UEP immediately appealed to the
National Advertising Review Board, whose verdict
is pending.
“The UEP program is positive,” said
Douglass. “It requires increased space
allowances, over time. It also has farms
inspected to make sure they meet the
requirements. If the UEP label explained this,
there might be less consumer confusion.”

Other programs

Amid the controversy, Tyson Foods Inc.
on November 21, 2003 announced the creation of
an Office of Animal Well-Being at the corporate
headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas. The Tyson
office emulates the Office of Animal Well-Being
formed in 2000 by IBP Inc. after mishandling of
beef cattle including live skinning at the IBP
slaughterhouse in Wallula, Washington was
extensively exposed by the Humane Farming
Association and Seattle area news media.
Also, the National Pork Board started a
Swine Welfare Assurance Program, and several
Colorado beef ranchers founded the American
Grassfed Association, to establish and promote
criteria for “grass-fed” as opposed to
“grain-fed” cattle. The latter often spend most
of their lives at feedlots.
Humane certification of farm products
started almost a decade earlier in Britain, but
the efforts of Compassion In World Farming to
raise the industry standards suffered a setback
in November 2003 with a court verdict that the
national Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs is not in violation of any law for
allowing farmers to restrict the diets of broiler
hens raised for breeding rather than meat. The
broiler breeders are kept on rations of about a
third the size given to broilers raised for meat,
because otherwise the hens become so big, so
fast, that they lose their ability to stand
before reaching sexual maturity. If raised for
meat they would be slaughtered after 41 days.
British law required that as of January
1, 2004 all egg packaging was to identify
whether the eggs came from caged or free-range
hens. In late December, CIWF reported, five of
the 12 largest British supermarket chains were
still not in compliance.

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