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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
'Certified Humane' Label Announced

Animal News Center

A Well-Treated Cow

June 4, 2003 Humane Farm Animal Care has announced that it will soon begin a "Certified Humane Raised and Handled" labeling program to identify "meat, poultry, egg or dairy products (that have) come from animals raised at facilities meeting precise, objective and humane standards for farm animal treatment."

In order to obtain permission to place the "Certified Humane" label on products, producers and processors must:

provide proper nutrition and access to fresh water at all times

take appropriate disease prevention measures

offer sufficient space and shelter

provide the company of other members of the animals' species

comply with the American Meat Institute Standards for slaughter

In addition, animals must not be given feed containing hormones or antibiotics intended to promote growth.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare organizations will help Humane Farm Animal Care administer the labeling program.

"The 'Certified Humane' label is based on strict animal handling standards, rigorous on-site inspections of farms in the program and United States Department of Agriculture verification of the process," said ASPCA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy Lisa Weisberg.

"By purchasing products that carry the 'Certified Humane' label, consumers will send a powerful message to the agricultural industry that humane care and treatment of American farm animals should be a priority," said Humane Farm Animal Care Executive Director Adele Douglass.

Animal News Center, Inc.

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Mouse: while I think this is probably a good idea in theory, I am interested in seeing if it actually has much effect. With the "administration" and "inspection" staff that will be needed, along with the publicity for it... I assume it is expected that the meat industry will pay for all of this through some kind of membership fee type of thing?

That is, meat producers will be expected to pay some sort of a fee for the privilege of saying they are humane according to the standards set forth by the above-mentioned orgs. Of course, if this is the case, then ultimately the price of meat for consumers will also increase at the retail level.

I am just speculating here, I could be wrong. But, if this is the money stream to cover all of this, then I just do not see it being adopted. I just cannot see the majority of consumers paying more than the already expensive price of meat for one that has a label. I kinda doubt it will have that much effect with most price-conscious shoppers. I could be wrong.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mouse

In order to obtain permission to place the "Certified Humane" label on products, producers and processors must:

provide proper nutrition and access to fresh water at all times

take appropriate disease prevention measures

offer sufficient space and shelter
Hmmm. Talk about loopholes. Have you, or has anyone, seen any detail that explains what "proper," "appropriate," and "sufficient" are determined to be? I'd like to know if they're backing up those requirements with something more concrete.

Quote:
Originally posted by mouse

"The 'Certified Humane' label is based on strict animal handling standards, rigorous on-site inspections of farms in the program and United States Department of Agriculture verification of the process,"
The USDA has proven itself untrustworthy time and again, and I'm skeptical that on-site inspections of farms in the program will be carried out rigorously by a party uninfluenced by the producers and processors, though I hope I'm wrong. That would be an improvement. You know, it doesn't even say who would be responsible for the inspections. It only says the USDA would be responsible for verifying those inspections. And we all know they don't have the financial resources devoted to such an activity anyway.


I have a concern that this sort of thing will result in a renewed complacency over animal welfare, much less animal rights. The blow to AR here is that, as long as people think animals are being treated well, they won't see a need to change their eating habits. It's a lot harder to convince people it's wrong to use animals as our resources if we have this deception of "humane" treatment perpetuated by a label.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Robert

ultimately the price of meat for consumers will also increase at the retail level.
Quote:
Originally posted by Robert

I just cannot see the majority of consumers paying more than the already expensive price of meat for one that has a label. I kinda doubt it will have that much effect with most price-conscious shoppers. I could be wrong.
If this practice were a requirement instead of a simple option, the animal welfare movement would be better advanced and, if beef weren't subsidized, the real cost of producing meat would finally be brought to the marketplace, where it belongs. If healthy, "humane" meat's too expensive for consumers there are other options to consider at the grocery store.
 

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Epski, yes.. but I assume (dangerous word I know) most folks will realize that meat eaters will continue to buy meat and will continue to demand reasonable prices. They are highly unlikely to openly embrace a label program that they pay for, especially if they think the price increase is due because of an AR associated group. Once AR enters the picture, my guess is most meat consumers will campaign heavily against it if they are forced to pay more with no other options. As an option, I think it has a chance, so long as the produced meat is competitively priced with no-label.

I just think from a marketing/acceptance standpoint, you have to go at from a price point of view rather than an animal rights/welfare point of view. I think if consumers see it as no more expensive to support a humane produced meat than a non-humane meat, it stands a much greater chance of being more widely accepted.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Robert

Epski, yes.. but I assume (dangerous word I know) most folks will realize that meat eaters will continue to buy meat and will continue to demand reasonable prices. They are highly unlikely to openly embrace a label program that they pay for, especially if they think the price increase is due because of an AR associated group. Once AR enters the picture, my guess is most meat consumers will campaign heavily against it if they are forced to pay more with no other options. As an option, I think it has a chance, so long as the produced meat is competitively priced with no-label.

I just think from a marketing/acceptance standpoint, you have to go at from a price point of view rather than an animal rights/welfare point of view. I think if consumers see it as no more expensive to support a humane produced meat than a non-humane meat, it stands a much greater chance of being more widely accepted.
"Reasonable..." *grumble, grumble* Don't get me started on what's reasonable, LOL.

You know, "they" said no one would pay more for organics, but that's one of the fastest-growing areas in consumer products. Granted, the price difference compared to non-organic products is minor on a one-to-one basis compared to the increase in the cost of meat should it ever lose its subsidies, but it does demonstrate that there may be a viable market for "humane-certified" animal products, or whatever they're calling it.

BTW, just to clarify, I certainly don't expect, much as I want, the government to stop subsidizing factory-farmed beef any time in the foreseeable future, nor do I expect consumers to take such a consequential price leap in the cost of meat lightly, considering all they believe to be true about meat consumption.

Sometimes I simply like to spout off about my ideals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think that the vast majority of people ASSUME that certain minimum "humane" standards are currently observed. (I put the word in quotation marks because, in my personal opinion, I don't understand how raising any creature for slaughter can ever be considered humane.) It is my hope that, to the extent that there are products out there that are labelled "humane", it may actually raise some degree of consciousness among some segment of the population that the standards most people currently assume to be already in effect are, in fact, not. And maybe, just seeing the word "humane" on a package of flesh may start some people to wondering about that odd juxtapositioning?

Maybe I'm being unduly optimistic, but I see this as a step: a baby step to be sure, but a step nonetheless.
 

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I see it the way mouse does. Most people never even think about it, but if they have two packages, one with "humane" and the other without, even if they don't buy the humane, some will wonder, "So it's not all humane?"

Epski- I think there are very specific guidlines, more so than in that article, but the enforcement is what worries me.

Overall, it's a step in the right direction and it will create consciousness and conversation.
 

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The thing is.. I'll be totally surprised if a meat producer will even entertain the thought of "giving" money to an AR associated organization for the privilege of putting a sticker on their meat packaging.

So, to even see it next to a non-labeled steak is, in my opinion, pretty close to fantasy. There's no incentive there for the meat industry to accept the labeling program if they must pay for it. And there's an even greater chance that consumers will opt for the steak that is a dollar less than the labelled one. Look at how many folks buy "no name" brand stuff. People are indeed conscious about prices they pay.

I am not against this proposal. I just have my doubts of it getting very far, at least not if it relies on the meat industry to pay upfront and then consumers to pay for it at the retail level.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Robert

I'll be totally surprised if a meat producer will even entertain the thought of "giving" money to an AR associated organization for the privilege of putting a sticker on their meat packaging.

...there's an even greater chance that consumers will opt for the steak that is a dollar less than the labelled one. Look at how many folks buy "no name" brand stuff. People are indeed conscious about prices they pay.
Two points:

1) I believe this is an animal welfare issue, not AR, though some people certainly know the difference out there.

The meat distributors that already sell meat that falls into this category will be more than happy to label their meat in a way to distinguish it from "inferior" meat. It's all about marketing anyway.

As for large-scale producers like ConAgra and Cargill, it is likely they won't go for this not simply because of the cost of labeling, or the organization(s) involved, but because of the cost associated with changing their entire empire over to meet these standards.

That said, if certified meat starts outperforming uncertified meat (assuming this all goes forward, that is still an optimistic possibility), then the bigger producers will become more interested. Capitalism is all about chasing the money. We're talking market forces here, not morality, and time will tell whether or not this is potentially a bonanza market to be tapped.

2) People buy products that are more expensive all the time, which is how Nike, Crest and all those huge, over-priced, greedy brand names stay in business, even though they're more expensive than generics.

I reiterate that the organics industry is booming, despite the higher cost per item relative to non-organic products.

These factors would seem to suggest that there is a market for "certified humane" meat, though there will certainly be people who continue to buy the cheap stuff as long as it's available.

My feeling based on other past business practices is that if there's widespread adoption of this certification, and especially if this meat is not only more expensive but has a fatter profit margin, the labeling practice will not be anethema to any company eager to line its pockets.

Hell, even the remotest implication that they're appeasing AR activists by adopting this certification is a huge marketing win for the meat industry, not the AR people, because they get to continue exploiting sentient animals for money, while the AR people are still faced with the massive problem of stopping all such animal exploitation, made more difficult now by the new public perception that animals are being treated more humanely. Animal Welfare proponents may be happy about this, but not the AR community.
 
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