Animal Welfare Trust awarded grants totaling $312,000 in 2012 which was up 18% from $265,400 in 2011, broken down as follows:
- $195,500 in grants from our general grant program to 15 organizations.
- $100,000 in our direct project program to HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers) and the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.
- $16,500 in grants to 4 student internship projects which are discussed in the student internship section of the web site.
Over the past eleven years since AWT was organized, farm animal welfare has been a major focus of our grant program and our energy as an operating foundation. While there are a number of classes animals caught up in the horrors of the modern industrialized farming model, the condition of sows in gestation crates certainly ranks high in terms of level of abuse and exploitation.
To see such intelligent and social animals confined to a steel crate not much larger than the animal herself, and to have such a system almost uniformly condoned by the large corporate agricultural producers and retailers, is an abomination. Even the American Veterinary Medical Association was unwilling to denounce these practices as inhumane. In short, a decade ago one of the most egregious farm animal welfare practices was fully accepted by the American agricultural system and the outlook for real reform seemed beyond reach.
A lot has changed in ten years. Arguably, the successful ballot initiative in Florida in 2002, led by HSUS, Farm Sanctuary and other animal advocacy groups, established the first point in the timeline which will result in the elimination of crates in the U.S. pork production industry. Over the decade there have been many important victories in the campaign and many organizations and activists deserve huge credit. But over the past several years the victories have quickened and have become more far reaching and HSUS deserves credit for leading the charge. The work is far from complete, but there is reason for optimism.
Future generations will look back at disbelief that the intensive confinement systems such as gestation crates were allowed to become the accepted practice in our society. I hope they will realize that these practices were able to take hold only because the lack of transparency in the meat production system, and once the inhumane treatment was understood by the consumer, reform gained momentum. It is a hopeful example for reforming cruel and abusive practices throughout the animal welfare arena.
I want to again thank the AWT board and staff for their continued guidance and dedication. I also want to thank our grantees, as well as the many applicants for grants we could not accommodate, for their tireless work to improve the conditions of all animals and give them the respect and consideration they so deserve.