Funds to help family farmers improve farm animal welfare
CHICAGO, July 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This June, Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) awarded over $13,000 in microgrants to farmers across the country to help them transition to pasture-based systems, improve the marketing of their humane products, and enrich the conditions in which their farm animals are raised.
Nine recipients received grants that ranged from $1,200 to $1,500 through FACT's Healthy & Humane Farm Funds Project. Launched last October, the project is designed to help farmers who wish to improve the welfare of their farm animals. The funded projects will impact broiler chickens, laying hens, swine, and beef cattle. In addition to start-up funds provided by FACT, funding for the initial launch of the project was made possible by generous gifts from individual donors and a local Whole Foods Market.
In an economy in which many farms are struggling to make ends meet, such funds provide new hope for farmers looking to enhance the well-being of their farm animals and to expand their profitability. While large-scale farms can have access to funding and incentives included in government programs under the Farm Bill, smaller-scale, sustainable operations often do not.
"Family farmers often want to make on-farm changes to improve the welfare of their animals, but sometimes need financial assistance to make it happen," said Lisa Isenhart, FACT's Humane Farming Program Manager. "That's where FACT steps in. Together with farmers, we are leading this country back to a food system that is both financially and ecologically sustainable."
The first year of FACT's Healthy & Humane Farms Funds Project has been a great success so far. FACT received 64 eligible applications from 23 different states for a variety of innovative projects designed to make farms more humane places for animals. A review committee composed of sustainable livestock farmers and FACT's Executive Director Richard Wood convened and anonymously reviewed each application.
The 2012 grant recipients include:
- Deck Family Farm, Junction City, OR
- East Fork Farm, Marshall, NC
- Fifth Crow Farm, Pescadero, CA
- High Points Farms, Trumansburg, NY
- Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY
- Lincoln Creek Ranch, Galvin, WA
- Misty Brook Farm, Hardwick, MA
- Triangle Beef, Fennville, MI
- YKers Acres, Wrenshall, MN
Sara Weik, owner of YKer Acres, is confident that FACT's Healthy and Humane Farm Funds will help her farm in a meaningful way. The money will allow her to build three additional large pens for her pigs that are on pasture. Currently, YKer Acres only has one pen.
"We are a tiny farm community in Northeastern Minnesota, and funds to improve the lives of our animals are often hard to come by. Thanks to FACT's grant money, our pigs will be able to stay in pasture all summer long. When the pigs are finished in one pen, we will be able to replant and use that pen later in the summer. Having four pens will allow for healthy and happy pigs," Weik explained.
Years ago, FACT pioneered successful projects working with farmers to create markets for humanely raised veal and eggs produced by uncaged hens. This new microgrants project builds on that past experience and FACT's belief that one of the best ways to positively impact farm animal welfare is to work directly with farmers.
Funded projects include building portable housing for a flock of broiler hens, improving access to pasture for farrowing sows, installing frost freeze hydrants on pasture land for beef cattle, and purchasing fencing to enable pasturing of laying hens, broiler chickens, sows and piglets.
"In order for a humane food system to thrive, smaller-scale, sustainable operations must have access to funding opportunities to keep them competitive with large-scale operations. Our Healthy and Humane Farm Funds Project is just one piece, one step in the right direction," said Wood.
Applications for the next round of grants will be available this fall. FACT plans to kick off the second year of this project in conjunction with Food Day on October 24th. FACT encourages farmers and the public to periodically check www.humanefarmfunds.org for updates about the project and future funding opportunities.
Founded in 1982, FACT is a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago that promotes humane and healthy farms through science-based advocacy, consumer education, and support for humane farmers. For media inquiries, contact Jacki Rossi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Jacki Rossi, (773) 525-4952 w, (219) 218-3824
SOURCE Food Animal Concerns Trust