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- Stephen Clare
Compassion in World Farming USA campaigns for bans on especially cruel farming practices, works with companies to improve welfare standards for farmed animals, and leads industry efforts to diversify protein sources and reduce global production and consumption of meat.
What problem are they trying to solve?
More than 60 billion farm animals are slaughtered every year.1 Inadequate welfare requirements and legal protections mean that the overwhelming majority of these animals suffer greatly, living their entire lives in crowded, uncomfortable, unhealthy conditions.2 Compassion in World Farming USA works to change this by campaigning for improved welfare standards in the United States.
What do they do?
Compassion in World Farming was founded in the UK in 1967 by farmer-turned-advocate Peter Roberts.3 Its mission is to end factory farming. CIWF USA works to achieve this goal on three main fronts: campaigning for legislative change to ban cruel practices, working with agricultural companies to implement higher welfare standards for farm animals, and reducing consumption of animal-based products through media campaigns promoting alternative protein sources.
CIWF asserts it played an important role in several major legislative wins in Europe, including laws banning veal crates, battery cages for egg-laying hens, and sow stalls.4 In the US, CIWF USA runs the Better Chicken Initiative to expand and strengthen corporate pledges from American companies. Companies which have pledged to improve welfare standards after campaigns involving CIWF USA include Whole Foods, Subway, Burger King, and Campbell’s.5 CIWF USA also believes they helped convince Perdue Farms to publish an animal welfare plan that committed the company to improving the health and living conditions of its chickens.6 CIWF USA has also recently expanded the scope of its operations to include meat reduction campaigns.7
Why do we recommend them?
- Our advisory committee of staff and some members from Farmed Animal Funders recommends Compassion in World Farming as one of the most cost-effective animal advocacy organisations in the world
- CIWF USA has a strong track record of successful legislative and corporate campaigns
- CIWF USA is aligned with our approach to animal welfare, which seeks to maximize impact by focusing on important and neglected issues like the welfare of broiler chickens and egg-laying hens
CIWF USA is among the more established animal advocacy organisations in the world. They have a strong track record of success, were recommended to us by our animal welfare advisory committee, and have previously received funding from the Open Philanthropy Project, a leading grantmaker in the animal welfare space.8 (Disclaimer: Founders Pledge has also received funding from Open Philanthropy.) While we have not independently assessed the impact of CIWF USA’s work, based on Farmed Animal Funders’ recommendation we are confident CIWF USA is among the best funding opportunities in this space.
We note in our report on Corporate Campaigns that some animal advocacy organisations take a more aggressive approach than others, and that both aggressive campaigning and collaborative relationship-building with agricultural companies seem important to win and implement pledges.9 Our impression is that CIWF USA works more on the collaborative side of this spectrum: collaborating with agricultural companies to identify and overcome barriers to improving welfare standards for farm animals.
CIWF USA has indicated to us that working to improve the welfare of broiler chickens is a current organisational priority and we see this as a promising focus. Far more broiler chickens are killed each year than farm animals of any other species: 8.8 billion each year in the US alone.10 Broiler chickens have been bred to grow unnaturally quickly, which can cause growth defects and disease.11 These animals also often live in overcrowded conditions. Due to the stress, broiler chickens sometimes attack each other.12 Farmers may clip the beaks and claws of their birds to prevent injuries or deaths.13 Given the scale of the broiler chicken industry and the apparent suffering experienced by these animals, broiler chicken welfare seems to be a high-impact cause to work on.
We see improvements to animal welfare as the main benefit of CIWF USA’s work. Drastic reductions in the prevalence of factory farming could also produce various co-benefits, such as reduced risk of zoonotic pandemics.14 However we have not quantified the strength of these benefits.
Why do we trust this organization?
This recommendation is made on the advice of our advisory committee of staff and a few members from Farmed Animal Funders. FAF is a donor learning community and philanthropic advisory organisation specifically focused on bringing an end to intensive animal farming. Animal welfare interventions are generally less well-studied and more difficult to evaluate than interventions in other cause areas. Many of the best opportunities are also likely to be country-specific. FAF’s team is dedicated to finding these opportunities, and maximizing impact is a core organisational value. The members of our advisory committee are highly value-aligned with Founder's Pledge, and we are fortunate to be able to rely on their expertise in this space.
What would they do with more funding?
Compassion in World Farming USA has told us that its future priorities are expanding its meat consumption-reduction programs to promote plant-based diets and developing a project to implement an international agreement on ending factory farming practices. We recommend members make unrestricted donations to CIWF USA for the organisation to use as it sees fit.
CIWF USA’s annual unrestricted operating expenditure is about $15 million, and the organisation seeks to maintain between three and six months of financial runway.15 While we do not have a detailed understanding of how much marginal funding CIWF USA could productively use at this time, we are confident that CIWF could absorb up to $1.3 million from FP members at this time to accelerate its work with companies and legislative campaigning.
What are the major open questions?
- We are less certain about the effectiveness of Compassion in World Farming’s newer initiatives, such as its meat reduction campaigns, than its corporate and legislative campaigns
- We are unsure about the feasibility of the organisation’s efforts to win a Global Agreement to replace factory farming16
Message from the organization
“For over 50 years, CIWF has led the farm animal welfare movement – experience that empowers its vast capacity to realize significant progress for farmed animals on a global scale. What sets CIWF apart is a collaborative approach; instead of relying on combative campaigning tactics, CIWF works alongside corporations and governing entities to influence incremental as well as sustainable changes throughout the global food system. This very approach has empowered CIWF's unique ability to foster strong relationships with campaigners, legislators, farmers, and key stakeholders in the food industry, which in turn serve to progress towards the mission to end factory farming, impacting innumerable farm animals worldwide.”
-Eve‑Marie Kuntzman, Director of Development
Compassion in World Farming’s 2019 Global Impact Report
Disclaimer: We do not have a reciprocal relationship with any organisation, and recommendations are subject to change based on our ongoing research.
For more information, please refer to our full Cause Report on animal welfare. ↩
“Peter Roberts”, The Economist, 30 November 2006, https://www.economist.com/obituary/2006/11/30/peter-roberts ↩
“Better Chicken Initiative”, Compassion in World Farming, https://www.ciwf.com/active-campaigns/better-chicken-initiative/. Accessed 1 October 2020. ↩
Personal communication from CIWF, September 2020 ↩
“Eat PLants For A Change”, Compassion in World Farming, https://www.ciwf.com/active-campaigns/eat-plants-for-a-change/. Accessed 1 October 2020 ↩
“Compassion in World Farming USA — General Support (2016)”, Open Philanthropy, July 2016, https://www.openphilanthropy.org/focus/us-policy/farm-animal-welfare/CIWF-USA-general-support. Accessed 1 October 2020. ↩
“Our understanding is that [The Humane League] often plays a role that is complementary to the one played by many other organisations: while several other groups establish more collaborative relationships with companies, THL often runs more confrontational campaigns. Both strategies are needed to obtain commitments from companies” (Capriati, “Corporate Campaigns”, Founders Pledge, p. 43) ↩
“Of the approximately 11 billion animals killed annually in the United States, 86% are birds—98% of land animals in agriculture—and the overwhelming majority are “broiler” chickens raised for meat, approximately 1 million killed each hour.” Humane Society of the United States, “An HSUS Report: The Welfare of Animals in the Meat, Egg, and Dairy Industries”, n.d., https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/hsus-report-welfare-animals-meat-egg-dairy-industry.pdf ↩
“Because they grow too fast, millions and possibly tens of millions of EU broiler chickens a year suffer from painful lameness due to abnormal skeletal development or bone disease, so that many have difficulty in walking or even standing. Lame broilers spend up to 86% of their time lying down. They may be unable to reach up to their drinking water containers and can go without water for several days.” “The Welfare of Broiler Chickens in the European Union”, Compassion in World Farming Trust, 2005, https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/3818904/welfare-of-broilers-in-the-eu.pdf, pg. 2 ↩
“To save space, factory-farmed animals are crammed together in barren pens, crates or cages, preventing normal behaviours such as nesting or foraging. This often causes the animals to inflict injuries on each other out of sheer boredom, frustration and stress.” “Animal Cruelty”, Compassion in World Farming, https://www.ciwf.org.uk/factory-farming/animal-cruelty/ ↩
“To reduce these injuries, mutilation has become commonplace. Animals have their teeth clipped, tails docked and beaks trimmed - all usually carried out without pain relief.” “Animal Cruelty”, Compassion in World Farming, https://www.ciwf.org.uk/factory-farming/animal-cruelty/ ↩
“There is substantial evidence of pathogen movement between and among these industrial facilities, release to the external environment, and exposure to farm workers [...] These data suggest that successful strategies to prevent or mitigate the emergence of pandemic avian influenza must consider risk factors specific to modern industrialized food animal production” (Graham, Jay P., Jessica H. Leibler, Lance B. Price, Joachim M. Otte, Dirk U. Pfeiffer, T. Tiensin, and Ellen K. Silbergeld. "The animal-human interface and infectious disease in industrial food animal production: rethinking biosecurity and biocontainment." Public health reports 123, no. 3 (2008): 282-299, abstract) ↩
Personal communication from CIWF USA, September 2020 ↩