On-farm certification, training and auditing
Cargill recognizes the need for a farm-to-plate approach to food animal welfare education and training—this starts at the farm level to confirm the animals we use for food are raised and treated in a humane manner.
We know many of our producer partners already implement industry-approved animal handling, health, and nutrition techniques and science, but we are also aware that some producers may not have the same access to these educational tools and resources.
As an industry leader in animal welfare, it is our duty to ensure all producers are provided animal welfare education and resources and ensure compliance. This process is respectfully and thoughtfully executed at a reasonable rate.
Cargill’s approach to verifying on-farm animal welfare compliance is a three-step process. Using beef cattle as an example.
The first step is education. That’s why at least 90 percent of our U.S. fed cattle beef supply is sourced from BQA certified feedyards. BQA certification provides the knowledge base needed to successfully move towards our projected second step.
The second step involves assessments. After education, we encourage our producer partners to put their knowledge, as well as and their current policies and procedures, to the test. BQA has provided an assessment that producers may use or, if they prefer, elect to employ their state BQA coordinator or veterinarian to complete. Assessments are voluntary, but Cargill believes they are a good way for a producer to prepare for the third step.
The third step is third-party audits. Cargill has no timeline forecasted for third-party on-farm auditing but recognizes this is the future of meat animal agriculture. Such audits have been in place in the U.S. egg industry for nearly 20 years.
We must verify what we say is true and demonstrate transparency and compliance to our consumers. We believe that this three-step process will prepare our industry partners for a successful future.
Across North America and around the world Cargill supports industry groups that are developing training, education and auditing programs to verify on-farm animal welfare compliance in a fashion that supports our three-step process. Programs that Cargill recognizes include:
The transportation of the animals we raise and/or process for food is a critical time in the lives of these animals. Moving animals from one place to another, no matter the stage of their lives or geography they are transported in, is a multifactorial process and an important animal welfare component.
Cargill follows all applicable federal, state and provincial livestock transportation laws. We are also working to advance transportation regulation to further protect animal health and improve product quality.
We support the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Beef Quality Assurance Transportation Certification Program and have been a technical contributor to, and funder of, the program. As of January 2020, we expect that all drivers delivering cattle to us be certified by Beef Quality Assurance Transportation to ensure they are well-trained in best animal handling practices.
Cargill actively supports, and funds research dedicated to the transportation of cattle.
A humane euthanasia plan is a necessary component of a reputable animal welfare program.
Even at the best managed farms and processing plants, and during the safest transportation journeys, situations will arise that will require animals to be euthanized to alleviate pain and mitigate suffering.
Approved forms of humane euthanasia will provide minimal distress during application, rapid loss of consciousness and a quick and painless death. The animals we raise and/or process for food deserve a respectful death and Cargill is committed to remaining at the forefront of new science and technology to implement the most humane methods of euthanasia when necessary.
We support the American Veterinarian Medical Association’s recommended methods of humane euthanasia for beef, dairy, and pork animals.
Physical alterations and pain management
Cargill takes seriously the pain associated with the physical alteration of animals and encourages producers to avoid them when possible.
We realize that there are several physical alterations necessary for long-term animal welfare, worker safety, production applications, and meat quality.
We follow all state, federal and provincial regulations and the expectation is that our supplier partners to do the same. Moreover, industry groups have provided best practices in relation to physical alterations and we expect producers to use these as a guideline within their business model. Cargill supports the following industry guidelines on physical alterations:
We are encouraged by the advancements in pain management research and technology. Cargill supports and encourages the U.S. Federal Drug Administration’s approval of analgesics for soothing pain in animals.