Cargill is one of the largest beef processors in North America and has a joint venture with a beef processor in Australia (Teys Bros.). We work closely with beef animal welfare experts, including world renowned Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University and her team, to ensure we are a leader in best practices.
Cargill was the first major beef processor to incorporate Dr. Grandin’s cattle pen, serpentine walkway and center track restrainer system for reducing animal stress during cattle processing when it was installed at the company’s Schuyler, Nebraska, beef plant in the early 1990s.
From the care cattle receive prior to transport to our plants, to care they receive prior to processing, Cargill works with suppliers to ensure animals are properly cared for and handled.
Learn more about how Cargill cares for cattle:
Humane handling on the farm/ranch
Cargill purchases cattle from a variety of suppliers, including strategic partnerships with feedlots, in addition to purchases on the open market.
We have met and continue to exceed our commitment that 90 percent of our U.S. feed yard cattle supply be purchased from yards that are Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified.
In the U.S., Cargill supports the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program, which is a set of animal welfare guidelines for use by dairy farmers. We require suppliers to implement industry best practices on their farms and feedlots.
In Canada, our beef supply is raised in accordance to the Canadian Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle and Dairy Cattle. Cargill supports the Verified Beef Production Plus standards for producers and is a technical contributor to this program. The vast majority (99%) of dairy cattle entering our beef supply chain originate from producers registered by ProAction, an on-farm assurance program of Dairy Farmers of Canada. This program focuses on animal welfare for dairy cows and includes animal care requirements based on the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle and a third-party auditing program. Cargill also supports the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Quality Assurance program, which requires producers to have an independently audited feeding and management program.
Humane handling at processing
Since the early 1990s, Cargill has worked with internationally renowned animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin to improve the design of our cattle processing facilities with the goals to reduce animal stress and improve comfort as much as possible.
Dr. Grandin’s first center track restrainer was installed in our Schuyler, Nebraska, facility and has been widely replicated throughout the beef industry in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including other Cargill facilities.
Each Cargill beef employee who has, or could have, contact with live animals is trained via Cargill’s Certified Animal Handler Program. Employees must pass a test and training is updated on a yearly basis as new regulations and/or science is implemented. Program topics include Dr. Grandin’s animal welfare philosophy (flight zone, point of balance, etc.), euthanasia procedures, cattle handling, facility design, “see it, stop it, report it” policy and regulations.
Cargill employs a zero-tolerance policy on animal abuse. We do not tolerate abusive behavior directed at animals by employees, suppliers, transporters, or others in our supply chains.
Cargill has a robust and innovative auditing program designed specifically for cattle processing.
Transporters, visitors and vendors sign animal welfare policy documents and are expected to follow U.S or Canadian government animal welfare regulations and Cargill policies on animal welfare, personal conduct and safety.
We were the first major beef processor to install remote video auditing by a third-party provider at our North America processing facilities. Video streams of animal-people interactions during active handling periods are fed from cameras in our plant to trained third-party auditors who analyze them and provide feedback.
Additionally, audits are conducted daily by PAACO-certified personnel, Cargill’s Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory team and yearly by a third party. These audits are based on North American Meat Institute guidelines. Our cattle are processed according to North American Meat Institute (NAMI) standards.
Additionally, daily or per-shift audits are conducted by U.S. and Canadian government regulatory authorities - U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service and Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Learn more about how cattle are handled in Cargill’s beef processing plants in a North American Meat Institute video filmed at our Fort Morgan, Colorado, beef processing facility.
In the U.S., Cargill supports the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association certification program for all cattle transporters in North America, and played a key role in the development of the program as a technical advisor because we believe in educating transporters in best practices to assure optimal animal welfare outcomes. All drivers delivering cattle to our U.S. slaughter plants are certified by the Beef Quality Assurance Transportation and Training Certification Program (BQAT) for cattle transporters.
In Canada, transporters delivering cattle to our plants adhere to the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals for Transportation. We also support the Canadian Livestock Transport Certification Program and serve as a technical contributor.
More than 90 percent of the beef cattle Cargill processes in North America are transported from point of origin to destination in less than eight hours, whereas the current regulatory maximum is 28 hours in transit. Beef cattle processed by Cargill in Canada also meets the transportation regulation requirements, which is 36 hours.
Industry standards and guidelines
Cargill abides by numerous guidelines and audit criteria established by our third-party partners. These organizations invest in fact- and science-based research to validate program protocols, processes and procedures in a manner which promotes continuous improvement and assures humane handling and processing for food animals.
- North American Meat Institute (NAMI) handling guidelines were updated June 2017 and Cargill is a key contributor.
- Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) - each plant has multiple PAACO certified auditors
- Food Safety Net Services (FSNS)
On the farm:
- US: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)
- US: Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA)
- Canada: Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+)
- Canada: National Cattle Feeders Association (NCFA)
- Canada: National Farm Animal Care Council Codes of Practice Beef Cattle
- US: Farmers Assurance Responsible Management (FARM)
- Canada: ProAction for dairy farmers
- Canada: National Farm Animal Care Council Codes of Practice Dairy Cattle
In the U.S., our processing plants comply with USDA regulations, which include the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the Humane Slaughter of Livestock Act and the Food Safety and Inspection Service Directive on the Humane Handling and Slaughter of Livestock.
In Canada, our processing plants comply to the Canada’s Health of Animal Regulations and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s requirements outlined in the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures, Chapter 12 Food Animal Humane Handling Slaughter—Animal Welfare Requirements.
Each of our North American processing plants have government employed veterinarians and inspection staff, and they, along with our PAACO-certified auditors and trained employees, oversee the on-site health, quality and handling of the animals we process. Government personnel audit our processes, documentation and training records to ensure compliance.
Links to these regulations:
- US: USDA-FSIS Directive 6900.2
- US: § 1901 and § 1902 Humane Methods of Slaughter Act
- US: 9 CFR § 313 series: Humane Slaughter of Livestock
- Canada Health of Animal Regulations (HAR)
- Canada Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures (MOP) Chapter 12 Food Animal Humane Handling Slaughter—Animal Welfare Requirements