A conversation with our farming campaign managers, Joe Loria and Cameron Harsh on their 2020 campaign achievements
Also, shoutout to our digital marking manager, Mariam Zoghbi who worked diligently to launch this very technical program!
The end of the year is almost here and at World Animal Protection US, we’re looking back at this year’s farming campaign achievements. Thanks to our Farming and Meat Reduction campaigns, there are more people who are aware of the cruelties farmed animals face. But most importantly more people know what they can do to help.
Earlier this month, I had a virtual sit-down with Joe Loria and Cameron Harsh, our two campaign managers at World Animal Protection US. I asked them both about their campaign achievements, how COVID-19 affected their work, and any hints on what’s in store for next year.
What have been your campaign achievements for this year?
Joe: This year, we launched Meating Halfway, a 21-day journey based on behavioral insights where we guide supporters on how to eat less meat. It’s filled with lots of resources (including free recipes) and tips from meat reduction experts. We also launched a public support campaign for the Farm System Reform Act where we connected supporters with their legislators. In doing so, we were able to build relationships with politicians such as New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to further support for animal-friendly policies. We also worked with restaurants like Pret a Manger, Starbucks, and Just Salad on adding plant-based meat alternatives to their menus.
Cameron: We released the first ever Quit Stalling report in September this year, tracking commitments made by large companies to phase out the use of gestation crates for pigs in their pork supply as well as the availability of public information regarding their progress. It served to call out companies that are falling behind but also to highlight those that remain committed to pig welfare despite challenges. We also held our first ever webinar for financial institutions, presenting to over 30 large investment companies on the linkages between factory farming and their investments in other sustainability issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss. We introduced them to our Farm Animal Responsible Minimum Standards (FARMS) as a tool for mitigating risks associated with low welfare practices.
What has been your favorite campaign achievement and why?
Joe: For me, it was developing Meating Halfway because we were able to internally collaborate with our Behavior Insights team, Communications team, and corporate partners. It was a collaborative effort to develop this robust program and I really loved the creative aspect of it. Also, shoutout to our digital marking manager, Mariam Zoghbi who worked diligently to launch this very technical program!
Cameron: For me, it was releasing the Quit Stalling report. It was the first of its kind and an important opportunity to bring much-needed attention to an issue that was not necessarily top of mind. It’s important to raise consumer awareness on how 3 out of 4 mother pigs in the country still spend the majority of their lives in gestation crates and to also encourage companies to be transparent in their supply chain practices. With Proposition 12 going into effect after the end of the next year, even more consumers will be learning about and asking how and where their food is raised.
How many animals have you impacted with your campaigns?
Joe: While it’s difficult to exactly measure how many animals the campaign impacted, we estimate that thanks to people pledging to eat less meat, we’ve been able to positively impact the lives of more than 300,000 farmed animals. Also, I can say that more than 9,450 people signed up for Meating Halfway, which means more than 9,450 are actively reducing their meat consumption thanks to our efforts. Eating less meat helps reduce the number of animals suffering on factory farms which I’m really happy about.
Cameron: It is challenging to measure the number of animals impacted as companies continue to implement welfare commitments, like ending gestation crates, and make progress on transforming their supply chains. We can be clearer on the number of animals impacted when we achieve new policies at the state and federal level. This year our work to push a ballot initiative in Colorado resulted in the state legislature passing a new bill prohibiting the production and sale of eggs from systems that confine hens in battery cages. This will improve the lives of the 6 million hens in the state as well as millions more raised by producers outside of Colorado that want to continue selling eggs in the state.
How has COVID-19 impacted your campaigns and campaign plans?
Joe: COVID-19 completely changed the way we campaigned in 2020. Instead of organizing offline in-person events with supporters around the country, we were tasked with thinking outside of the box to connect with folks virtually, like hosting webinars and investing in online user journeys. Additionally, we wanted to be mindful of how we engage with companies whose businesses were severely impacted by the pandemic, including food chains and the travel industry. We found it was best to work collaboratively with these companies on building a more resilient food system that benefitted animals. Lastly, I would say we put a particular emphasis on policy initiatives benefiting farmed animals, farmers, and the environment. Again, choosing to take a holistic approach to building back better.
Cameron: COVID-19 brought to the public’s attention, in a very visceral way, the connection between the treatment of farmed animals and the health of our communities and families. While transmission of COVID-19 to humans was not attributed to farmed animals, the pandemic has encouraged greater conversation around the zoonotic disease risks from factory farms and the likelihood of the next pandemic coming from farmed animals. But it also importantly highlighted the connection between factory farming and the poor treatment of workers in this industry, who even before COVID faced some of the highest risk of injury and unfair conditions of any sector.
Any sneak peek for what’s happening next year?
Joe: We’re planning a cooking webinar for our supporters. It’ll be tied in with our Meating Halfway New Year’s resolution effort. That and a lot of other fun things for next year. Stay tuned!
Cameron: We’ll be releasing results from our superbug testing where we aim to provide further evidence that the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms contributes to contamination in the environment. Our campaign is also going to be working on issues that are unique in the animal welfare space. We’re very excited.
From all of us at World Animal Protection US, thank you for your support and dedication to helping animals. We wish you all a happy holiday season and a Happy New Year!