Since the first Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare was conducted in 2012, we have seen significant improvements in companies’ management practices, processes and reporting on farm animal welfare. Many have now adopted formal farm animal welfare policies, assigned management responsibilities, set objectives and targets, and introduced audit processes to ensure that their policies are effectively implemented. For example, of the 150 companies covered by the 2021 Benchmark, 77 (51%) now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare (compared to just 15 companies (22%) in 2012), and 119 (79%) have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare (compared to 18 companies (26%) in 2012).
However, reporting on farm animal welfare performance is lagging. While over half of the companies covered by the Benchmark are now reporting at least some animal welfare performance data, it is often not possible to understand how companies are translating policy commitments into action, nor is it possible to get an accurate picture of the welfare impact on animals.
The Benchmark provides a clear framework for companies on how they should manage farm animal welfare. It identifies the key issues – close confinement, the use of genetically modified or cloned animals, the use of antibiotics and growth promoting substances, routine mutilations, pre-slaughter stunning and long-distance live transportation - that should be covered by farm animal welfare policies. It also identifies performance impact measures that should be used by all companies when reporting on their farm animal welfare performance.