By: Julia Johnson, Manager of Farm Animal Welfare at the ASPCA
ASPCA® has proudly added Hart Dairy to its Shop With Your Heart® list of farms and food brands as a result of their animal welfare certification achievements.
The ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program was launched in 2016 to connect the growing number of conscientious shoppers with farms and companies working to build a more humane and transparent food system. Inclusion on the ASPCA list is based purely on merit of companies earning a meaningful and independent animal welfare certification—and showcasing the certification logo on its products.
Navigating labels and welfare claims can be confusing, so the ASPCA recommends that those who buy meat, eggs or dairy seek out products bearing the logo of a meaningful, third-party program. Hart Dairy’s products were added to the Shop With Your Heart list because they display the Certified Humane seal with an additional Grass-Fed distinction—and Hart Dairy is the first pasteurized dairy cow operation in the United States to achieve these higher standards.
Currently, nearly ten billion farm animals are confined and suffering in inhumane farming conditions. For dairy cattle, that usually means cows are tethered by their neck to the same stall every day for 24 hours except when milked. In these environments, dairy cows may undergo painful procedures such as tail docking and horn removal without analgesic methods or anesthesia—and are routinely given hormones and antibiotics.
Unfortunately, some of the loosely defined and weakly regulated claims that are rampant across the marketplace conceal the inhumane practices of factory farms and may mislead well-intentioned shoppers into buying products that don’t align with their values.
Meaningful certification programs that ban these types of cruel and unnecessary procedures, such as Certified Humane®, perform regular audits to ensure that cows raised by farms like Hart Dairy never have to undergo these conventional practices.
The Grass-Fed addition in Certified Humane’s program requires continuous year-round pasture access beyond the requirements of the USDA Organic program, which only requires cows to be outside for a minimum of 120 days. Hart Dairy lets its dairy cows enjoy green Georgia grass 365 days a year to stretch their legs and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, showcasing that giving cows the freedom to run and enjoy a better quality of life is truly possible for dairy operations in the United States.
So far, the ASPCA only lists four milk brands (three cow and one goat dairy) through its Shop With Your Heart program, including Hart Dairy, despite the widespread concern for dairy cows by American consumers.
According to a recent survey conducted by Lake Research Partners, 89% of Americans are concerned about industrial animal agriculture, specifically citing animal welfare, worker safety or public health risks as a worrying risk. Additionally, 85% of farmers and their families, who have firsthand experience, support a complete ban on new industrial animal agriculture facilities, which is almost twice the level of support expressed by the general public.
We hope many more dairy farms will take similar steps as Hart Dairy has to do better by farm animals. Over a half a million members of the public used the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart resources in 2020, demonstrating the growing interest and demand for information around modern farming practices and the desire to seek out kinder meat, dairy and eggs products.
You can learn more here: www.ASPCA.org/ShopWithYourHeart.