Livestock, Poultry Farmers Can Apply for Grants to Improve Animal Welfare

Wed, 04 Oct 2017

US - Starting yesterday (3 October), farmers who wish to improve the welfare of their farm animals can apply for a Fund-a-Farmer grant of up to $2,500 from Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT).

Since 2012, FACT has awarded 91 Fund-a-Farmer grants totaling $195,000, directly impacting more than 66,000 animals to independent family farmers across 27 states: AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX, VT, WA, WI, and WV.

A 2016 survey of grant recipients found that 90 percent of the projects still are in use, 97 per cent had highly improved or somewhat improved animal welfare, and 93 per cent had improved the farms’ financial sustainability, by improving profits, creating recurring cost savings, and increasing customers.

"Our Fund-a-Farmer grants from FACT has highly improved the welfare of our 200 laying hens and 15 guinea fowl by creating more available pasture, more time to spend on the pasture and more on-pasture feeding options," said Shannon Ratcliff a three-time grant recipient, who owns the 127-acre Shannon Brook Farm in Watkins Glen, New York, and raises organic, pasture-raised sheep, egg-laying chickens and ducks, guinea fowl, pigs, and livestock-guardian dogs.

The farm received a $2,500 animal welfare improvement grant in 2014 to design and build a mobile hen house for their flock of laying hens a second grant in 2016 to build two mobile pig shelters that will be on pasture and moved daily to provide the pigs with clean ground and shelter and a third grant in 2017 to design and build three mobile farrowing huts for the farm’s breeding sows.

"Now, the birds are fertilizing our pastures, knocking back invasive species, trimming the grasses, cleaning up the parasites behind the sheep, and improving our farm’s bottom line."

"Our Fund-a-Farmer grant has improved the welfare of our 1,200 heritage meat chickens by making them safer from predators, safer from exposure to weather and providing more on-pasture feeding options," said Dede Boise, who owns the Root Down Farm in Pescadero, California, and raises Animal Welfare Approved and USDA Certified Organic heritage breed broiler chickens, turkeys and hogs.

The farm received a $2,500 pasture improvement grant in 2014 to purchase a flatbed trailer to be converted into a mobile chicken coop and a $2,500 grant in 2017 to install a perimeter fence around 8 acres pasture used for rotation of turkeys, broilers and swine.

"It has improved our soil and pasture sustainability, and our financial sustainability, by increasing our profits, costs savings and customers."

"Our chickens' health and well-being has improved significantly because they now have limitless access to fresh pasture at all times using this system," said Alex Needham and Alison Parker, owners of the 14-acre Radical Root Farm, where they raise approximately 600 laying hens on restored prairie land and grow over 150 varieties of 45 different kinds of USDA Certified Organic crops on forest preserves in Libertyville, IL.

The farm invested FACT’s $2,500 grant in a hay wagon for use as a moveable chicken coop. "This new fortress-like structure saves money by protecting the birds from coyote and hawk attacks each year."

"FACT’s Fund-a-Farmer grants are an excellent example of how working directly with farmers can improve farm animal welfare and farm profitability," said Larissa McKenna, FACT’s Humane Farming Program Director.

"In addition to creating a higher standard of animal care on farms across the country, our Fund-a-Farmer grants also help farmers undertake needed on-farm changes that otherwise could not happen."

Like last year, FACT will offer two distinct types of grants focused on: 1) pasture-based farming systems, and 2) farm improvements that result in successful animal welfare certification. FACT will provide funds to working, independent family farmers that raise pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, dairy cows, turkeys, beef cattle and/or sheep.

Applications must be submitted online by 4 December 2017 for grants to be awarded in January 2018.

The pasture improvement grants are specifically for projects that help farms transition and/or improve access to pasture-based systems. FACT will consider funding for a variety of projects that are designed to improve animal welfare within a pasture-based system, including projects that would:

  • Revamp existing housing to encourage outdoor access;
  • Build new housing, such as portable houses for frequent rotation of animals;
  • Improve water delivery to animals on pasture;
  • Improve quality of pasture in terms of animal nutrition and health of land;
  • Increase shade and/or protect against the elements;
  • Provide effective & safe fencing of pasture; and/or
  • Allow multi-species rotational grazing.

The animal welfare certification grants specifically for on-farm improvements required for successful application and attainment of one of three specified animal welfare certifications are generously underwritten by the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). This grant category will make it possible for farmers to attain animal welfare certification from Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, or the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), specifically steps 4 – 5+.

"The lack of welfare standards or transparency in industrial animal agriculture is not just endangering farm animals and misleading consumers, it also puts higher-welfare farmers at a disadvantage," said Daisy Freund, Director of Farm Animal Welfare at the ASPCA.

"The ASPCA is proud to support FACT’s grants to farmers adopting meaningful welfare certifications to ensure better lives for animals and increased clarity in the marketplace."

In addition to the grant opportunity provided by the ASPCA for Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and GAP (levels 4 – 5+) certification, FACT will also offer Certification Grants for on-farm improvements needed to attain American Grassfed Association "Certified Grassfed," Certified Naturally Grown, and USDA Certified Organic certification. FACT will offer an online information session on the grant application process on Wednesday, 1 November 2017 from 12pm – 1pm CST. Farmers may register online for this free session at www.foodanimalconcernstrust.org/webinar.

For grant application guidelines, eligibility requirements, and to access the online grant applications, please visit www.foodanimalconcernstrust.org/farmer. In addition to awarding grants, FACT also offers free webinars, conference scholarships, and an online forum for livestock and poultry farmers. If you have questions about FACT’s Fund-a-Farmer grants, please contact Humane Farming Program Director Larissa McKenna at (773) 525-4952 or grants@foodanimalconcerns.org.