Animal Welfare Approved has announced a call for proposals for its 2011-2012 Good Husbandry Grants.

The Good Husband Grants program is now accepting proposals from producers and slaughter plants to improve animal welfare.  Now entering its fourth year, the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA)-sponsored program is open to certified farmers and those who are submitted an application for AWA certification may apply for up to $5,000 to be used towards projects including mobile hosing, breeding stock and on-farm processing equipment. Slaughter plants working with or seeking to work with AWA producers are also eligible for funding.  

AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther stands by the progress made possible through the grants.

"One of the greatest triumphs of this grants program is that it gives farmers the freedom to try new ideas without the risking the farm," Andrew Gunther said in a press release. "We are thrilled to be able to contribute towards developing solutions for future generations of farmers - solutions with positive impacts that extend far beyond the farm gate."

The funding priorities for this year's cycle include improved genetics, increased outdoor access, welfare improvements in the slaughter process and non-lethal predator control. A primary goal of this grant program is to facilitate the growth and success of high-welfare, pasture-based systems.

"The biggest challenge in agriculture right now is getting animals outside,” Gunther said. The science tells us that when farm animals are responsibly managed on open pasture or range, a whole host of challenges inherent in industrial agriculture simply disappear. For instance, the incidence of pathogenic E. coli is much lower in pasture-based systems, and animals are proven to have higher welfare. This ultimately leads to more nutritious, healthier products."

In Marengo, IL, Hasselmann Family Farm's 2009-2010 Good Husbandry Grant funded the construction of new mobile housing for the farm's farrowing sows, facilitating the transition to pastured production. Since moving the sows onto pasture farmer Scott Hasselmann has seen numerous benefits - not only in terms of animal health and welfare, but in improved disease prevention, farm sanitation and whole farm fertility. AWA's Good Husbandry Grants program will also continue its focus on welfare improvements in the slaughter process.

"As a birth through slaughter program we are committed to working with plants to ensure high welfare at slaughter," AWA Lead Auditor Tim Holmes said.

Another 2009-2010 grant awarded to Fruitland American Meat in Jackson, MO funded the purchase of a new knock box and handling facility improvements. The modifications have allowed the plant to safely and humanely handle smaller animals such as lambs, hogs, and calves - improving animal welfare and helping the plant diversify its business.

Farmers and slaughter plants interested in applying should visit www.animalwelfareapproved.org/farmers/grants-for-farmers or contact Grants Coordinator Emily Lancaster at Emily@AnimalWelfareApproved.org or (202) 618-4497.

Source: Animal Welfare Approved