What is the Humane Care Merit Award Certification Program?
Domestication and artificial selection of livestock have made farm animals dependent on humans. This dependence has made it incumbent upon humans to practice responsible stewardship in the treatment of animals under our care.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has defined animal welfare as “… a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia.”
Since, ultimately, all livestock will be humanely euthanized at the hands of man, it is crucial that farmers recognize and meet this responsibility in an educated and caring manner.
The fur industry’s Merit Award program, launched in 1989, was one of the first formalized humane care certification programs in U.S. agriculture. To assist in the program’s implementation, the same year also saw the first publication of the Standard Guidelines for the Operation of Mink Farms in the United States.
In consultation with veterinarians, animal scientists, wildlife biologists and farmers, the industry has developed a set of rigorous standards for the humane production of farm-raised mink. Farms meeting the standards receive the Merit Award certification only after an independent licensed veterinarian has completed a comprehensive inspection to verify compliance. Nearly 95% of U.S. mink production comes from certified farms.
The Humane Merit Award seal is an honor for commitment to humane care in all aspects of mink farming, including:
- Vigilant attention to nutritional needs.
- Clean, safe and appropriate housing.
- Prompt veterinary care.
- Consideration for the animals’ disposition and reproductive needs.
- Elimination of outside stress.
- Sound environmental management of all operations and facilities.
American farms produce the world’s finest mink, drawing international buyers to auctions in the US and Canada. Producing the best mink is a reward for years of conscientious attention to providing the best possible animal care.