20 Years of Rescue, Education and Advocacy for Farm Animals
In an ideal world, there would be no need for Farm Sanctuary. There would be no factory farms or stockyards, and cows, pigs, chickens, and other farm animals would not be abused. They would be free to laze in the breeze, bathe in the sun, scratch at the earth, and enjoy life.
Sorrowfully, animals raised on today's industrialized farms are treated like unfeeling commodities, and their basic needs are completely ignored. They are crowded in factory farm warehouses, and confined so tightly that they cannot walk, turn around or lie down comfortably. Farm animals are de-beaked, de-toed, tail-docked, confined, crowded, neglected and denied the very basics of life: fresh air, wholesome food, room to move and, most importantly, freedom - all for the sake of a profit margin.
Farm Sanctuary was founded in 1986 to combat the abuses of industrialized farming and to encourage a new awareness and understanding about "farm animals." At Farm Sanctuary, these animals are our friends, not our food.
Hilda on a "deadpile"
Hilda at Farm Sanctuary
We started out by visiting farms, stockyards and slaughterhouses to document conditions, and we found animals literally left for dead. Hilda, a sheep found on a pile of dead animals behind a stockyard, was the first animal to be rescued by Farm Sanctuary. She lived with us for more than a decade, and died of old age.
Over the years, we have rescued thousands of animals, and educated millions of people about their plight. People are shocked to learn about the intolerable conditions that are commonplace on today's industrialized farms.
Our rescue and education work continues, as we advocate for laws and policies to prevent suffering and promote compassion. We are reaching out to legislators and businesses, and working to bring about institutional reforms.
When Farm Sanctuary started in 1986, it was a fledgling, all volunteer organization that was funded by sales of veggie hot dogs from a VW van. Today, Farm Sanctuary has grown to become the nation's leading farm animal protection organization, with hundreds of thousands of supporters.
Farm Sanctuary remains solidly committed to our founding vision, while expanding our vital rescue, education and advocacy efforts.
When Farm Sanctuary's investigative and advocacy campaigns uncover cruelty at factory farms, stockyards and slaughterhouses, our Emergency Rescue Team helps bring the animals to safety. At our 175-acre shelter in upstate New York and 300-acre shelter in northern California, Farm Sanctuary provides lifelong care and rehabilitation to farm animals rescued from cruelty and neglect.
With over a dozen housing barns at each facility, hundreds of acres of pasture, and round-the-clock attention, Farm Sanctuary shelters are internationally recognized for quality care, as well as for our rescue, rehabilitation and placement efforts. Our Farm Animal Adoption Network has placed needy animals in loving homes across the U.S., and we offer training programs and workshops to help people interested in starting shelters and caring for animals.
Farm Sanctuary has been there to help with some of the largest farm animal rescue cases ever conducted in the U.S. In 2000, we helped save more than 1,500 hens trapped in crushed and twisted metal cages, after tornados laid waste to battery-cage warehouses at the Buckeye Egg Farm in Ohio.
In the winter of 2002, SPCA investigators alerted us to a massive cruelty case in Cattaraugus County, New York, where animals were left to starve in bitter cold temperatures. More than 100 surviving pigs, some frozen to the ground, were brought to our shelter hospital, where they received 24-hour emergency care and were later adopted into loving homes across the U.S.
In 2004, Farm Sanctuary responded to a cruelty case where 26 cattle, including several pregnant cows, were found starving to death inside a filthy, dilapidated barn and brought the mothers and babies to safety.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the southeast in 2005, colossal warehouse-like poultry farms lay in ruins, many bulldozed into vast, live graves. Farm Sanctuary and other dedicated groups rescued as many birds as possible, and hundreds of dehydrated and starving chickens were trucked to our New York shelter, where they received vital care.
In 2006, Farm Sanctuary found homes for cattle who were tethered and confined in a barn that was overflowing with six feet-high piles of manure. The cattle could move only a few inches, and some were in such bad shape that they could barely walk.
Throughout the last 20 years, Farm Sanctuary has played a significant role in hundreds of rescues, providing rehabilitation and permanent sanctuary to abused farm animals from cruelty cases across the U.S. Over 7,000 animals have called Farm Sanctuary home, and we have found safe and loving placement for thousands of others.
It's nearly impossible to describe the exhilaration in the eyes of a rescued animal when he or she steps off a transport truck into an open field of green. After initial tentative steps, the new arrivals run for the very first time, savoring the earth beneath their feet and kicking up their heels with joy.
By opening our barn doors to guests at our New York and California shelters, Farm Sanctuary provides visitors with the unique experience of seeing the world through the eyes of farm animals. A shelter tour enables individuals to understand the abysmal realities of today's factory farming conditions. After coming face to face with a rescued chicken, nuzzling up to a gentle cow and rubbing a grateful pig's belly, many Farm Sanctuary visitors are forever changed.
Our Visit the Farm program welcomes overnight visitors to our picturesque farms, where they stay in spacious cabins and awaken to crowing roosters. Free to roam the 300-acre sanctuary nestled in the coastal mountains near Orland, California, or the 175-acre sanctuary situated in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of New York, guests can pitch in with farm chores, or simply enjoy the companionship of farm animals.
Those looking for a more intensive experience can apply for a one to three-month internship and live at our California or New York shelter. Our Volunteer Internship Program has been around since Farm Sanctuary’s inception, and has inspired hundreds of individuals to make a life-long commitment to protect farm animals.
For those who have not made the journey to visit our shelters, Farm Sanctuary extends a hand to communities via a variety of conferences, forums and outreach programs. Since 1987, our annual Walk for Farm Animals, which is now held in over 50 cities across the U.S. and Canada, has raised awareness and funds for the plight and care of farm animals.
For animal advocates of all experience levels, our Farm Animal Forum offers attendees information and tools needed to mobilize and get active. This popular conference, held in a different city each year, features an array of speakers and activists well versed in current farm animal issues and campaigns.
Since its founding, Farm Sanctuary has promoted a new Thanksgiving tradition. Our annual Adopt-a-Turkey Project encourages people to adopt a turkey instead of eating one. National and regional media stories have covered the effort and helped educate millions of consumers about the cruelty of factory turkey production, while encouraging a more humane alternative.
Farm Sanctuary encourages people to move towards a plant-based diet to promote good health, environmental stewardship and compassion toward animals. Our Veg for Life Campaign provides a website and other resources to help, including dietary information and recipes. Newsstands across the country offer free copies of our Guide to Veg Living, advertisements run in prominent media outlets, and restaurants across the country are now signing our Veg Pledge, and agreeing to provide veg meals.
Farm Sanctuary's humane education extends to the classroom, where students learn to think critically about factory farming and the impacts of daily food choices. Our Cultivating Compassion Humane Education program, which includes the educational video, My Friends at the Farm, narrated by Casey Affleck, is available to teachers and students in communities throughout the U.S.
Meanwhile, Farm Sanctuary is an ongoing presence at festivals and street fairs, where volunteers from coast to coast staff tables and educate citizens about animal agriculture and compassionate alternatives.
Back at the farms, annual events such as our 4th of July Pignic and our Country Hoe Downs are ever-popular, drawing overnight campers and day visitors who share a mutual interest in farm animal issues and delicious vegan food. The Hoe Down features presentations from prominent speakers, farm tours, hay rides, and a barn dance in the evening. At our July 4th Pignics, guests feast on tasty vegan hot dogs with all the fixin's, enjoy free tours and have the chance to give a pig a belly rub.
Farm animals are specifically excluded from most state anti-cruelty laws and from the federal Animal Welfare Act. But we are working to change that.
Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has campaigned relentlessly to prevent cruelty, and to encourage legal and policy reforms that promote respect and compassion for farm animals. We have initiated groundbreaking prosecutions and precedent-setting litigation, and we have passed the first U.S. laws to prohibit inhumane factory farming practices. Our field investigations have turned up shocking cruelties, which have riled citizens and led to reforms.
Ever since Hilda was rescued in 1986, our No Downers campaign has sought to prevent the inhumane transport and marketing of "downed animals" (animals too sick to stand). Our exposé of this issue on national television in 1991 led to the introduction of the Downed Animal Protection Act in the U.S. Congress in 1992. Since that time, we have enacted several state measures to prevent downed animal suffering, and we have prosecuted and convicted stockyards for mistreating downed animals.
We petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop allowing downed animals in the food supply, and in 2001 the Agency agreed to stop buying meat from downed cattle for the School Lunch Program. In late 2003, shortly after the discovery of mad cow disease and facing a Farm Sanctuary lawsuit, the USDA finally enacted a ban on the slaughter of downed cattle for human food, and we continue to monitor the situation today. Farm Sanctuary was among the first to recognize concerns that downed animals could harbor "mad cow" disease, producing a newsletter article in 1993 citing evidence that downed cattle in the U.S. could be afflicted with mad cow, or a variant of the disease.
Since our founding, our No Veal campaign has sought to end the suffering of calves who are chained by the neck in crates, unable to walk or exercise for their entire lives, in order to produce veal. Veal consumption has dropped from 1.6 pounds per person in 1986 to 0.5 pounds today, and nearly 500 restaurants, including five major restaurant chains have signed our pledge not to serve crated veal.
Farm Sanctuary helped pass the first-ever law in the U.S. to ban a cruel factory farming practice. We were key sponsors of the Florida ballot initiative, enacted by voters in 2002, to outlaw gestation crates. These two foot wide enclosures where breeding pigs are confined for most of their lives have been outlawed in Europe, and we are working to ban them in the U.S.
Foie gras (French for "fatty liver") is an expensive paté served as an appetizer. It is the result of force feeding ducks with a pipe shoved down their throats, causing their livers to expand up to ten times their normal size. Our No Foie Gras campaign challenges this egregious abuse. We sponsored the nation's first law banning foie gras cruelty, a California measure that passed into law in 2004. And, we are working to pass similar laws in other states. Supporting these efforts, nearly 900 restaurants have signed our pledge not to serve foie gras.
Farm Sanctuary is urging institutions such at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop endorsing inhumane farming systems. We are forcing these institutions and others to face factory farming issues, and to question the humaneness of "normal agricultural operations".
Farm Sanctuary has amassed an extensive video and photo library documenting the realities of industrialized agriculture. Our graphic images have appeared in print and broadcast media around the world, reaching millions. We produce public service announcements and documentaries to educate citizens. Narrated by Mary Tyler Moore, Life Behind Bars, illustrates the need to ban specific, egregious factory farming systems. In addition to distributing photos and video, we produce detailed reports, citing scientific and empirical evidence. These address how industrial farming undermines animal welfare, as well as issues such as 'organic' and 'animal welfare' labeling standards.
Farm Sanctuary's efforts have been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and dozens of Associated Press stories advocating for reform. Television and radio coverage includes Prime Time Live, National Public Radio, Larry King Live, Animal Planet, CBS Sunday Morning and CNN Headline News.
Farm Sanctuary serves to open hearts and minds to a more compassionate world for all. The organization has come a long way over the past 20 years, but there is still much work to do. With growing awareness about the abuses of industrialized farming, change is imminent.
Treating animals with kindness is good for the animals, but it is also good for people. Just as callousness and apathy can be contagious, so too can compassion and the will for a better world. Please join us.
P.O. Box 150 Watkins Glen, NY 14891
ph: 607-583-2225 fax: 607-583-2041