Promoting and facilitating continuous improvement in animal agriculture is one of our core missions and why we developed our signature initiative—the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards.
Each set of tiered standards—from Step 1 to Step 5+—has its own requirements that must be met before certification to that particular Step level is assigned, if appropriate. Producers have the freedom to aim for any Step level they choose. Each Step rating has its own distinct label that identifies the particular Step level achieved.
In essence, Step 1 prohibits cages and crates. Step 2 requires environmental enrichment for indoor production systems; Step 3, outdoor access; Step 4, pasture-based production; Step 5, an animal-centered approach with all physical alterations prohibited; and, finally, Step 5+, the entire life of the animal spent on an integrated farm.
Currently, we are developing 5-Step standards for other animals, as well as preparing updates to original standards. Read more about our process.
As of May 31, 2013, the 5-Step program includes 2,276 operations, raising more than 140 million animals annually, as certified farms and ranches, ranging from Step 1 to Step 5+:
- encourages and inspires farmers and ranchers to move up the welfare ladder, if they so choose
- engages a broad spectrum of producers, rather than a minority segment of the agricultural community
- allows for a wider selection of products from farms and ranches for greater consumer options
- more accurately and justly rewards and recognizes producers for their welfare practices
- better informs consumers about the production systems they may choose to support
As the standard-setter, Global Animal Partnership does not conduct audits nor make Step-rating certification decisions. Authorized, third-party certification companies, with trained and ratified auditors, perform the audits and issue Step certificates, as appropriate. By working with independent certifiers, farmers, consumers, and retailers alike can be assured that Step ratings are fair, accurate, and free of any conflict of interest.