The American SPCA grants $151,000 to help a poultry producer expand operations.
NEW YORK CITY—American SPCA farm animal welfare campaign director Suzanne McMillan on May 15, 2012 announced a $151,100 grant to the five-year-old nonprofit organization Farm Forward, to be used “to promote humane poultry welfare at the Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas.”
The grant is more than twice the $71,333 total income shown on the most recent Farm Forward filing of IRS Form 990, for fiscal year 2010, and is three times the total Farm Forward expenditure of $50,226.
The Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch, said the ASPCA media release, “is run by farmer Frank Reese,” who “raises pasture-based, vegetarian-fed heritage breed chickens and turkeys free of unnecessary antibiotics in spacious, welfare-friendly conditions.”
The ASPCA release did not mention that Reese is a member of the Farm Forward board of directors. Other Farm Forward directors include Whole Foods Market board chair and co-chief executive officer John Mackey, academics Ian Duncan and Bernard Rollin; Eating Animals author Jonathan Safran Foer, Farm Sanctuary senior director for strategic initiatives Bruce Friedrich, and rabbi Jonathan Crane.
The Farm Forward board chair, Steven J. Gross, is father of University of San Diego theology professor Aaron Gross, who founded Farm Forward in 2007 and is chief executive officer. For approximately 10 years, 1998-2007, Friedrich and Steven J. Gross represented PETA in a variety of farm animal advocacy campaigns.
Projecting “An immediate impact on at least 17,000 birds,” ASPCA spokesperson Bret Hopman called Good Shepherd “currently the market leader in the sale of chicken and turkey products that come from birds raised entirely outside of the factory farm industry.” Contended Hopman, “Currently, the lack of heritage breed birds is a significant barrier to the development of high-welfare poultry rearing.” Hopman offered no theory to explain why high-welfare conditions might not be extended to any poultry.
“Presently,” Hopman continued, “Reese can produce 72,000 chicken eggs and 30,000 turkey eggs per season. With the new barn converted to a hatchery, he will be able to increase this amount to 600,000 chicken eggs and 100,000 turkey eggs per season.”
Responded Humane Farming Association founder Brad Miller, “It is simply delusional to think that getting humane organizations into the business of promoting meat from heritage breed chickens will result in even the slightest reduction of animal suffering. The ASPCA decision to fund the commercial production of chickens for meat raises a number of troubling issues,” Miller continued. “Beyond the obvious ethical issues from the animals’ standpoint, there is also the matter of using charitable dollars to further the commercial interests of a privately owned, profit-driven poultry company. This is just the latest,” Miller charged, “in a growing trend on the part of several major animal organizations to, in effect, merge with the livestock industry.” Miller noted that Farm Forward has previously promoted a variety of federal and state legislation that HFA regarded as more likely to entrench the status quo in animal agriculture than to bring about meaningful change.
Recounted United Poultry Concerns founder Karen Davis, “On May 1, 2012 [ASPCA farm animal welfare campaign director] Suzanne McMillan contacted me to discuss chickens and factory farming. We spoke at length on May 2 about chickens, turkeys, and the poultry industry. I recommended that she order the revised edition of my book Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs for detailed information, which she did. Suzanne never mentioned that she and the ASPCA had already arranged to help finance a poultry operation and promote chicken and turkey consumption. She represented herself as looking around for ideas to ‘help’ chickens and turkeys. Paragraph two of the ASPCA press release basically paraphrases me, UPC, and Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs,” Davis charged. Davis called the Farm Forward grant something that “I and UPC would never support.”
Opined Davis, “A commercial animal production operation is not an alternative to factory farming, but an extension of it. In this instance, chickens and turkeys are being mass-produced in mechanical hatchery incubators, raised motherless for human consumption by the thousands, and slaughtered, i.e., factory farmed.
“In addition to cruelty and commodification of animals being falsely represented as ‘humane,’ ‘compassionate,’ ‘anti-factory farming,’ etcetera,” Davis added, “is that these relatively smaller farms seek to grow and expand. Regardless of what size they are, they do not reduce the amount of resources needed to raise and slaughter animals.
“It is unethical for an ‘animal welfare’ organization,” Davis concluded, “to suggest to the public that millions and billions of people can continue to eat the same number of animals, as long as these animals are raised ‘humanely’ on non-factory farms. Humans will never set aside hundreds of millions or billions of acres of land to accommodate billions of animals living ‘free range,’ yet this is the false prospect being offered to a public that wants to believe that incompatible desires and realities can be reconciled.”
What Can I Do?
STICK UP FOR CHICKENS & TURKEYS!
If you think it is wrong for the ASPCA to use charitable donations to fund and promote poultry slaughter, expand poultry breeding and hatchery facilities and pretend that a factory farm is Not a factory farm, while doing NOTHING to promote genuine compassion and respect for these birds, Contact:
ASPCA: Bret Hopman, 646-291-4574 / [email protected]
Farm Forward: Ben Goldsmith, 347-987-1942 / [email protected]
ASPCA’s farm animal welfare campaign director: Suzanne McMillan, 212-876-7700 / [email protected]
“The public comes to feel that the use of animals for food is in some way acceptable, since even the animal welfare people say so. This cannot help but make it much more difficult to eliminate the practice in the future. Far better to follow the strategy of union activists, who demand 20 percent in the hope of receiving at least 10 percent.” – Harriet Schleifer, “Images of Death and Life,” 1985.