UPDATE: We’re pleased to announce that the Pilot GAP Policy Manual has been issued and will go into effect Monday, September 1st, 2014. This manual outlines GAP policies, the certification process and much more.

Every set of standards in our 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program must undergo a rigorous process of development, review, and revision before it can be used by certification companies to audit farms. We’re proud of the ongoing effort that goes into making the 5-Step program great.

Each set of our standards—from Step 1 to Step 5+—has its own requirements that must be met before certification by authorized, independent third parties to that particular Step level. (Each Step rating has its own distinct label that identifies the particular Step level achieved.) Producers have the freedom to aim for any Step level and to move up the welfare ladder if they choose. The standards are designed to inspire farmers and ranchers to reach beyond the minimum set of requirements for animal care.

Developing standards the right way is no easy task. The process must be credible, engage all stakeholders, ensure balanced participation of those stakeholders, and be rooted in science with on-the-ground practicality.

Our standards development process starts with animal scientists advised by farmers and experienced auditors. After they create an initial working draft, a species-specific ad hoc council is convened. Invited representatives from the scientific, advocacy, certification, and farming communities discuss, revise, question, and finalize the working draft before it is posted online for public comment. The ad hoc council reconvenes to address concerns and comments received from the public. The final draft standards go before the Global Animal Partnership Board of Directors for adoption.

Review and Revision
All of our standards are subject to regular review and, when appropriate, are revised to incorporate new scientific findings.

As with the development of new standards, the revision of existing standards also requires the convening of an ad hoc council, a public commenting period, and adoption by our Board of Directors.

At this time, our 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards cover the on-farm and transport components of animal production.


The 5-Step certification cycle spans 15 months. This means that, over time, farms are audited—and the animals raised there are observed—in all four seasons.

As the standard-setter, Global Animal Partnership does not conduct audits or make Step-rating certification decisions. Authorized, third-party certification companies issue Step certificates after performing audits to assess compliance with our 5-Step standards.

By requiring independent certification, we can be confident that Step ratings are fair, accurate, and free of any conflict of interest.

Advice and Support

We support producers and certifiers by offering advice and clarification throughout the certification process. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Current work: We are developing a comprehensive manual that will provide detailed guidance to both producers and certifiers.