Clover Sonoma, a third-generation family-owned and operated dairy, is celebrating 20 years as an American Humane Certified dairy and was the first dairy to be certified in the United States. The American Humane Farm Program is dedicated to improving the lives of farm animals and celebrating the people committed to humanely raising them. Twenty years ago, Clover Sonoma worked with American Humane to create the evidence based welfare standards that American Humane Certified farms follow today.
“Over the past three generations our family has stewarded this business to elevate the dairy industry,” said Clover Sonoma CEO Marcus Benedetti. “We fought against the introduction of the growth hormone rBST, and made the choice to be one of the first dairies west of the Mississippi to not allow it in our milk supply, but we knew that the most critical commitment was caring for our cows. We chose to partner with American Humane, because of its established commitment to animal welfare. We work with them to give ourselves a benchmark of care to share with our farms, but also to help set a standard of care for animals across industries.”
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization and has been at the forefront of farm animal welfare since 1877. In 2000, building on a legacy of work on behalf of the nation’s animals, American Humane Free Farmed began, a certification program that formed the foundation for the current American Humane Certified program. American Humane works internationally with farmers, food companies, veterinarians and academics to enhance farm animal welfare and provide consumers humane food choices. The American Humane Farm Program helps to provide verifiable assurance to consumers and retailers that products carrying the American Humane Certified label have met rigorous, science-based animal welfare standards and that the animals in the program were humanely raised.
“In 20 years, American Humane has seen significant growth with some one billion farm animals certified per year,” said American Humane President & CEO Robin R. Ganzert, Ph.D. “However, only a handful of other dairy companies have followed in Clover Sonoma’s footsteps. Although other humane certifications exist, American Humane CertifiedTM goes above and beyond for the welfare of our animals.”
While producers can implement practices that prioritize animal welfare on their own, well-intentioned self-reporting of humane treatment can be open to criticism. American Humane keeps a necessary amount of ethical space between producers, scientists, and consumers. It helps ethically minded consumers identify products that align with their values. Unfortunately, many consumers confuse organic with humane, but this certification specifically ensures that the animals on our nation’s farms and ranches live dignified lives.
Healthy Cows are Happy Cows
Clover Sonoma believes how you treat your animals – the food, water and shelter you provide – has a direct impact on the quality of food they produce. Simply put: Healthy cows are happy cows that produce higher quality milk that tastes better and lasts longer. Clover Sonoma has worked with many of its dairy farm families for generations -- 30 independent family farms. Their long-standing partnership has grown from a mutual understanding that we need to treat each other and our animals like family. Furthermore, Clover Sonoma farmers have a mutual motivation to take care of their land and animals, so that they can be productive and sustainable for generations to come.
American Humane standards, and the standards for Clover Sonoma’s dairy farms, are built upon the governing five freedoms:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst by providing access to fresh water and a diet that maintains health and vigor. This must be specific to the animal. For example, puppies, adult dogs, pregnant cats, and senior cats all need different types of food provided on different schedules.
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. This means farmers should provide soft bedding and an area with appropriate temperature, noise levels, and access to natural light. If an animal is outside, it must have shelter from the elements as well as appropriate food and water bowls that will not freeze or tip over.
- Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment. This includes vaccinating animals, monitoring animals, physical health, treating any injuries and providing appropriate medications.
- Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal's own kind. Animals need to be able to interact with — or avoid — others of their own kind as desired. They must be able to stretch every part of their body (from nose to tail), and run, jump, and play.
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering. The mental health of an animal is just as important as its physical health — as psychological stress can quickly transition into physical illness. These conditions can be achieved by preventing overcrowding and providing sufficient enrichment and safe hiding spaces.
Third Party Auditing
Beyond the frequent farm visits Clover Sonoma conducts, a selection of Clover Sonoma farms are randomly audited by American Humane auditors every year. As part of this audit, Clover Sonoma farms are inspected for various components that have a direct effect on animal welfare and treatment which includes, but is not limited to:
- Ensuring and auditing company policy and employee code of conduct;
- Maintaining comprehensive production records and documentation;
- Confirming an effective herd health plan with oversight by a veterinarian and nutritionist;
- Implementing biosecurity and sanitation plans;
- Frequently inspecting livestock.
At the completion of each dairy farm audit, a score is given. If there are any areas of concern needing improvements, the dairy must submit their plan of action to American Humane with follow up by Clover Sonoma’s producer relations team and further confirmation of compliance at the next audit. This process is more than a certification, it’s a way of life for Clover Sonoma farmers.
To learn more about Clover Sonoma’s animal welfare standards, visit https://cloversonoma.com/our-promise/happy-cows/ and join the movement to buy #OnlyHumane products that adhere to the industry’s highest animal welfare standards, American Humane Certified.
About Clover Sonoma
Third-generation family owned and operated, Clover Sonoma is recognized as a leader at the forefront of the dairy industry. The Petaluma-based company in Northern California’s beautiful Sonoma County was the first dairy in the United States to become American Humane Certified, and hold its partnership of family-owned dairy farms to a higher standard by developing its own unique Clover Promise of Excellence. Clover Sonoma is proud to bring conscious dairy products direct from its farms to consumers. As a Certified B Corporation®, the company uses its business as a power to do good, and its passionate support of animal welfare, sustainable business practices, and local community have always been hallmarks of the business. Each year the company gives back at least five percent of its profits to support these passions under its Clover Cares program. For more information, please visit www.cloversonoma.com and join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.
About American Humane
American Humane is the country's first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org.