Working with Financial Institutions to Improve Farm Animal Welfare

Humane Society International / Global


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HSI’s Farm Animal Welfare and Protection program works with producers, restaurant companies, supermarkets, manufacturers, food service providers and hotel chains to transition their animal agriculture production and supply chains to higher welfare systems. Financial institutions such as commercial banks, investment management companies, pension funds and insurance companies are key stakeholders in the supply chain that often go unnoticed, and yet their funding often makes production possible. Increasingly, financial institutions are updating their lending, insuring and investing policies to address the conditions under which farm animals are bred, raised, transported and slaughtered, often as part of their Environmental, Social and Governance programs. More and more financial institutions are incentivizing higher welfare production methods and, in some cases, making production methods that rely on confining farm animals in small enclosures ineligible for financing.

HSI works to ensure that the world’s most influential financial institutions are aware of the significant body of science, public policy and growing market demand that supports the trend towards higher animal welfare standards, and to encourage them to take greater responsibility for animals in the meat, dairy and egg supply chains that they finance, invest in and insure. HSI’s team of attorneys, animal welfare scientists, experts and campaigners around the world seeks to provide resources and raise awareness about the economic, regulatory and reputational risks of financially supporting intensive confinement of farm animals.

Private financial institutions and pension funds

HSI briefs private financial institutions and pension funds on animal welfare changes in the food industry and has organized meetings and events in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Viet Nam.

  • Worked with UK-based Standard Chartered on the first-ever cage- and crate-free policy by a global financial institution. (2018)
  • Consulted with Singapore’s DBS Bank on South East Asia’s first-ever sustainability linked loan to a Small Medium Enterprise, a S$27 million loan to an egg producer for construction of a cage-free egg facility. (2019)

The FARMS Initiative

In 2019, HSI and two other animal protection organizations established the Farm Animal Responsible Minimum Standards (FARMS) Initiative, the world’s first initiative designed specifically to provide technical resources for financial institutions to assist them in managing their portfolios of food businesses.

  • HSI and other members of the FARMS Initiative finalized Responsible Minimum Standards (RMS) for five of the most commonly farmed animals: Beef Cattle, Chickens Raised for Meat, Dairy Cattle, Laying Hens and Pigs. (2019)
  • The FARMS Initiative and the RMS were included as a “Key Resource” in the United Nations Environmental Programme Finance Initiative’s Principles for Responsible Banking Guidance Document. (2019)

International finance institutions

HSI engages with the most influential IFIs, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, numerous EU member state development banks, and government-supported agricultural banks in Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa and Viet Nam.

  • Successfully advocated for increased animal welfare standards during consultations with the IFC about their revised Good Practice Note on Improving Animal Welfare in Livestock Operations and the World Bank Group’s updated Environmental and Social Policy. (2014 and 2016)
  • Produced 2016 report detailing IFI’s funding of, meat, milk and egg producers, and maintain “Investment Updates,” a resource for policy makers about IFI’s funding of meat, milk and egg producers.

Entities supporting financial institutions

HSI supports entities such as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) research and reporting companies, standard-setting bodies, on-farm certifiers, and inter-governmental organizations such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), in order that their work reflects science-based animal health and welfare standards.