Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Leading the Way for Farm Animals

With all the excitement about our Step-rated beef, pork and chicken in the meat case, I thought it would be good to talk about Global Animal Partnership, the organization behind the 5-Step Animal Welfare Standards Rating Program. Although Global Animal Partnership is considered a relatively young non-profit organization (founded in 2008), it is now one of the leading farm animal welfare programs in North America, with almost 1500 farms already audited and certified by independent, third-party companies. Miyun Park, GAP’s Executive Director, explains, “I’m excited that despite still being in our early years, we’ve been able to positively impact the lives of 140 million animals with our 5-Step standards and engage with such a wide variety of producers concerned about improving the welfare of the animals they raise!”

With several different animal welfare labels in grocery stores, you might wonder what sets Global Animal Partnership and their 5-Step program apart from the rest. Miyun describes, “One of our core missions is to promote and facilitate continuous improvement in animal agriculture. What is unique about our program is not only our multi-stakeholder leadership, but our multi-tiered system. We’ve brought together experts from around the world and from many different sectors, including farmers and ranchers, retailers, animal welfare academics, and leaders from four of the largest animal advocacy organizations, to find common ground and work together to improve the welfare of farm animals. Additionally, our signature initiative, the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards program, is groundbreaking in that it is multi-tiered, encouraging ever higher welfare by its very structure. The 5-Step program helps producers communicate how they care for their animals, engages a broad spectrum of farm animal production systems, provides consumers greater transparency about how animals were raised, and inspires producers to move up to higher Step levels. And, of course, it benefits the animals themselves.”

I asked Miyun what’s next for Global Animal Partnership. “We’ve been extremely busy revising the three current sets of standards based on all of our learnings and new scientific research, expanding our auditor training materials, and much more. Currently, there are Step-rated farms and ranches in the U.S., Canada and Australia, and we are already talking with producers in other countries. Plus we’ve been in discussions with grocery stores and restaurants here and abroad. It’s exciting to know there’s so much interest in our 5-Step program! On top of that, we are also working on three new sets of standards — for egg-laying hens, turkeys and lambs. So watch this space for lots of updates in the future!”

Learn more about Global Animal Partnership and their programs.