NESTLING A BEAUTIFUL CAUSE
By Jaya Verma
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."- Mahatma Gandhi
Treating animals with respect and compassion is a part of every dairy farmer's heritage. Farmers need to recognize that good animal welfare practices lead to the production of high quality, safe and wholesome product, and they should seek ways to improve the comfort of their animals rather than mutilating them. Simply put, without healthy and contented farm animals, a dairy farmer wouldn’t even stay in business.
After the release of hidden-camera video taken by 'Mercy For Animals' at a Nestlé dairy supplier in Wisconsin showing workers viciously kicking, beating and stabbing cows and dragging downed cows by their fragile legs and necks using chains attached to tractors, Nestlé has announced its affirmation to ameliorate farmed animals welfare across its entire global supply chain following the signature of a partnership agreement with NGO 'World Animal Protection'. By forming an international partnership with an animal welfare NGO, Nestlé has also become the first major food company to do so.
“Our decision to work with Nestlé is based upon their clear commitment to improving animal welfare and the lasting change this can have on millions of farm animals around the world,” said Mike Baker, the organization's Chief Executive. This agreement means that all 7,300 of the company's suppliers of animal-derived products (milk for its range of yogurts and ice creams, to meat for its chilled foods and eggs for its fresh pastry and pasta) will have to comply with the organization’s tougher animal welfare standards.
Nestlé's new policy states that it will eliminate many of the cruelest forms of institutionalized animal abuse including an end to the practice of confining pigs in gestation crates, calves in veal crates and egg-laying hens in cages. It will ensure that these animals are not restricted and can engage in normal animal behavior. Also, it will phase out the forced rapid growth of chicken used for meat products and cutting the horns, tails and genitals off of farm animals without painkiller. Nestlé is also encouraging food sustainability by promoting the global 'Meatless Monday' movement via on-package messaging for some of its product. The move is one of the broadest-reaching commitments to improving the quality of life for animals in the food system, and it is likely to have an impact on other companies that either share the same suppliers or compete with Nestlé.
“Nestlé has commissioned an independent auditor, SGS, to carry out checks to ensure the new standards of animal welfare are met on its supplying farms. In 2014, several hundred farm assessments have already been carried out worldwide. Some of these checks are also attended, unannounced, by World Animal Protection representatives whose role is to verify the auditors.
When a violation is identified, Nestlé will work with the supplier to improve the treatment of farm animals to ensure they meet the required standards. If, despite engagement and guidance from Nestlé, the company is unable or unwilling to show improvement, it will no longer supply to Nestlé.
The 'World Animal Protection Agreement' forms part of Nestlé’s broader 'Responsible Sourcing Activities'. These cover human rights, health and safety and environmental issues, and build upon multiple commitments, including, for example, a pledge that by the end of next year, 40% of the company’s key commodities - including meat, poultry, eggs and dairy will be fully traceable.” (www.nestle.com)
Nestlé is an industry giant, and their action has been welcomed with open arms by animal rights groups and consumers alike. But, this is not to say the fight for animals’ concern is over. Nestlé is striking the first match on inordinate cruelty in factory farms but it will take many more to reduce industry standards to dust. Consumers want to purchase food from sources they know will take care of animals, and operate in a way that is consistent with their values and expectations. Dairy farmers have a longstanding commitment to doing what is right. We all, after all, are inhabiting a fragile and dying planet…