WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, November 25, 2019 — The holidays are rapidly approaching. As the leaves fall and the days shorten, families and friends gather inside around dinner tables. It is the season of slow-cooked stews, warm apple cider, and of course, holiday feasts with dinner tables sagging under the weight of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and all the trappings.
This Thanksgiving, make sure to thank the farmers and ranchers who go above and beyond, making our national celebration of bounty possible by growing and raising quality food that is plentiful, affordable, and humanely raised.
Sadly, hardworking farmers are far too often vilified and blamed by pundits looking for a scapegoat for the day’s news, whether it is soil degradation, water pollution, or greenhouse gas emissions.
At the organization I lead, American Humane, I have the wonderful opportunity to work alongside farmers 365 days a year. Ethically minded producers don’t deserve the flak they are given, they deserve our thanks. But it should come as no surprise that most Americans are woefully ignorant of the realities of agriculture.
Consider that less than 2% of Americans work on our nation’s farms and ranches. And more than half of consumers believe that most farms are run by corporations, entities that most Americans distrust.
In fact, 98% of America’s 2 million farms are run by families. At every single family farm that American Humane works with, I have met dedicated families who care passionately about the quality of the food they produce and the welfare of the animals in their care. And I have met farmers and ranchers who are eager to meet all of the 200 evidence-based standards that our scientific advisory committee created to help ensure the humane treatment of animals.
The standards that these farmers live up to were not pulled out of thin air or written based on personal perceptions. Instead, they are backed by hard science and evidence, compiled by leading experts in the myriad fields of animal science to help animals live well. In essence, allowing chickens to be chickens and pigs to be pigs.
This Thanksgiving, say thanks to the farmers who feed America while doing right by the animals in their care by setting a humane table. Not only will you be supporting hardworking producers, but you will be helping improve the lives of America’s farm animals.
On Nov. 13, American Humane held a celebration of America’s farmers on Capitol Hill, just like we do every year. We use it as an opportunity to encourage folks to shop humanely during the holiday season. And we think it is important, not just to remind consumers to remember animal welfare, but to shine a spotlight on excellent producers who are so often underrepresented in media narratives.
This year, we heard from several American Humane certified producers, who have gone above and beyond on animal welfare — committing to a more just and equitable world part of their standard operating procedure.
With every producer that undertakes operational change, America’s farms and ranches become better homes for animals. This year, one in three Thanksgiving turkeys will come from Butterball, carrying the American Humane Certified seal.
If you’re doing the grocery shopping this holiday season, then remember to look for food that was humanely raised and verified by an independent, third-party certification program by looking for “American Humane Certified” on the product label. That’s a sure way to thank the farmers who make Thanksgiving possible.
Robin Ganzert, Ph.D., is the president and CEO of American Humane.