A common misconception about animal agriculture is mistreatment. Those unfamiliar with how the animals are raised have often heard they're treated badly, cruelly, or unfairly, when it's really quite the opposite. Organizations like Global Animal Partnership (GAP) and Animal Agriculture Alliance, have come together with the purpose of continually improving farm animal welfare and producing animal products of the highest quality. These programs can also benefit investors who take advantage of the pricier meat that humane livestock ranchers produce.
GAP Animal Welfare Program
Let's dig into the GAP's 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Program. To their standards, animal welfare means:
- Health & Productivity - raising animals so that they’re healthy and productive with good quality feed and water, shelter, and free from disease, illness and injury (but treating any animals that get sick)
- Natural Living - raising animals in environments that allow them to express their natural behaviors effectively – both indoors and outdoors
- Emotional Well Being - raising animals in environments that provide them the ability to be inquisitive, happy and playful and minimize boredom, frustration, fear, stress and pain, as much as possible
The infographic below shows the process farms must go through to become a GAP producer, including continuous farm audits.
After the third party audit and GAP step is decided, the GAP level will be displayed on the certified meat and other products at the market. These products can be found at grocers like WholeFoods Market.
Consumer demand is driving this push for improved animal welfare. Recent studies have shown a clear link between negative information on animal welfare and a decline for the demand in meat. At the same time, humanely-raised farm animals sell for higher prices than their conventionally-raised equivalent and can result in higher profits for the producers and those who invest in them. Generally, the prices of specialty or high-end agriculture products are less volatile than their lower-end commodity counterparts, which is a plus for investors seeking reliable returns.