Target: ASPCA CEO Edwin Sayres
Goal: Rethink the recent decision to donate money to a for-profit poultry farm
The ASPCA recently awarded a $150,000 grant to Good Shepherd Poultry Farm, a for-profit farm in Kansas that specializes in raising chickens, turkeys and other poultry, to promote humane poultry welfare. Though the ASPCA is ostensibly an organization aimed at reducing cruelty to animals, one cannot help but be puzzled at the mixed message of using donors’ money to support a for-profit poultry farm. Tell CEO Edwin Sayres that to rethink the campaign and the message it might be sending.
Good Shepherd Poultry Farm specializes in raising “heritage breeds” of poultry. Heritage animals must be raised according to certain guidelines established by the American Poultry Association. These guidelines stipulate that the birds’ genetic lineage must be able to be traced back for many generations, that birds are allowed to naturally mate, are given a long, productive outdoor lifespan and have a slow growth rate. Many humane advocates see heritage breeds as an alternative to factory farmed poultry that are given antibiotics and farmed very intensively. Apparently, the ASPCA thinks that the farms like Good Shepherd should be the model for the cruelty-free future of farming.
Even though the ASPCA’s goals are to reduce cruelty, their donation to Good Shepherd shows that they don’t consider the fact that these animals will ultimately be slaughtered for food to be cruel or inhumane. Humane Farming Association founder Brad Miller doesn’t buy the idea promoting heritage poultry will reduce suffering as long as the animals are ultimately being slaughtered. He also mentions that there are certain uncomfortable questions raised when a non-profit gives donors’ money to a for-profit commercial poultry farm. It’s also troubling that Frank Reese, the owner of Good Shepherd sits on the board for Farm Forward, the humane advocacy group administering the ASPCA’s grant. What message is the ASPCA trying to send? Isn’t slaughter the worst abuse of all?
Dear Mr. Edwin Sayres,
Let us start by saying that we fully support the ASPCA’s hard work in the ongoing journey toward a cruelty-free world for animals. It is because we feel so strongly about what your organization does that we must question your recent decision to award a grant to the Good Shepherd Poultry Farm in Kansas. You believe that this “heritage breed” farm is the model for the humane future of poultry farming. It’s true that Good Shepherd’s adherence to a strict set of guidelines that requires their poultry to be naturally bred and enjoy long, outdoor lifestyles is commendable. But these chickens are still ultimately being bred to be slaughtered. Isn’t death the gravest and cruel abuse of all?
We understand that your organization is committed to reducing animal cruelty, but their must be some other way besides funneling donors’ money to a for-profit poultry farm to send the message that cruelty to animals is not okay. It’s also troubling that the owner of Good Shepherd sits on the board of Farm Forward, the group you have selected to administer the grant. Their seem to be many of mixed messages and conflicts of interest in this decision. We ask that you really review how effectively this money is being used and continue to use donations in ways that bring an end to all forms of unnecessary cruelty and death.
[Your Name Here]