September 16, 2011
Farm Animal Welfare in Latin America
Since 2004, HSI Latin America has been working on the ground in Costa Rica on farm animal issues. Our efforts have been aimed at influencing industry and government and promoting higher farm animal welfare standards (specifically for cattle raised for beef). Our goal is to encourage practices that diminish the amount of stress and suffering that cattle experience prior to and during slaughter. In 2011, we also began researching and addressing issues around the extreme confinement of egg-laying hens and breeding sows in the country’s industrial animal agriculture sector.
Partnering to make a difference
HSI Latin America collaborates closely with Costa Rica’s Livestock Development Corporation, (CORFOGA for its acronym in Spanish). CORFOGA is a national organization representing all Costa Rican cattle producers. That collaboration has generated research about better animal handling practices prior to and during slaughter, and has produced several trainings aimed at improving conditions for animals throughout the production chain.
In collaboration with CORFOGA, HSI Latin America has conducted trainings for target audiences including cattle producers, livestock auction staff, government representatives and students of the veterinary and agricultural sciences. HSI Latin America and CORFOGA also worked together to implement a “training of trainers” program for 25 people, given by Bristol AWT (Animal Welfare Training). These trainees continue to train additional animal handlers throughout Costa Rica.
Looking toward the future
Over the next few years, HSI Latin America will devote special attention to secure the involvement of key government stakeholders in a set of standards that ensure improved welfare for animals on the farm, during transport, and during slaughter. In the meantime, we continue to collaborate closely on farm animal welfare and sustainable agriculture issues with other animal protection organizations (such as the World Society for the Protection of Animals) and with higher learning institutions focused on agricultural sciences (such as CATIE, a regionally-renowned agricultural sciences institution that trains young agronomists and produces cutting-edge research).
A model for best practices
HSI Latin America ultimately aims to demonstrate that higher animal welfare standards can, and indeed do translate into benefits for both industry and consumers. These efforts are fueled by the global and local increases in demand for meat, eggs, and milk products produced with higher animal welfare standards (e.g. organic, free-range). Costa Rica continues to strive to be at the forefront of sustainable development in Latin America and around the world. HSI Latin America hopes that this country can also adopt a welfare-friendly animal agriculture model that pioneers best practices for the care and handling of farm animals throughout the region.