Animal Welfare Fund: November 2020 grant recommendations

by SamDeere6 min read3rd Dec 20202 comments

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EA FundsEA FundingRussiaFarmed Animal WelfareWild Animal Welfare
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The Animal Welfare Fund made the following grant recommendations in the November 2020 round:

  • Wild Animal Initiative: $80,000
  • ModernFerma by Forgotten Animals: $75,000
  • Equalia: $74,000
  • Insect Welfare Project: $71,000
  • Fish Welfare Initiative: $65,000
  • Animals Aotearoa: $60,000
  • Anima International: $50,000
  • Aquatic Animal Alliance: $50,000
  • Global Food Partners: $50,000
  • Fundación Vegetarianos Hoy: $46,000
  • Credence Institute: $40,000
  • Fórum Nacional de Proteção e Defesa Animal: $40,000
  • Crustacean Compassion: $25,000

Another grant of $25,000 has been recommended but hasn't passed our internal process yet. This report will be updated accordingly once the grant is confirmed.

Wild Animal Initiative: $80,000

General support for research and advocacy for wild animal welfare

Wild Animal Initiative's mission is to understand and improve the lives of wild animals. Following up on our previous grants to WAI, we are continuing to provide funding for their work. This grant will contribute to their goal of establishing a thriving field of wild animal welfare research. Toward that end, they hope to eventually:

Build academic support for work on wild animal welfare, so it is possible for a wild animal welfare advocate to conduct research on various types of interventions within academia

Contribute to the development of an NSF fund to support this type of research

Contribute to the existence of a journal and/or society of wild animal welfare

Contribute to the existence of dedicated conferences that attract > 1,000 attendees

Contribute to the presence of departments or inter-departmental programs (such as IGEPs) dedicated to wild animal welfare research.

Their plans for the coming year include launching a field experiment on a promising intervention and hosting the first-ever wild animal welfare research workshop. We are happy to support work on this important yet largely neglected area.

ModernFerma by Forgotten Animals: $75,000

Advocating for improvements to farm animal welfare in Russia

We're excited to be supporting the launch of a new project in Russia, home to the fifth-largest number of farmed land animals in the world (about 800M) but very little farm animal welfare advocacy. The Animal Welfare Fund granted Russian animal org Forgotten Animals $30K last November to begin outreach to producers, policymakers, and others on a viable Russian approach to improving farm animal welfare. The resulting project, ModernFerma, seeks to become a credible, trusted partner that can convince producers, policymakers, and other influential Russian agriculture stakeholders of the economic case for reforms. This will fill a gap, given that the limited Russian advocacy to date has largely been grassroots and campaign-based (work which we think is also important). It may also be an especially promising approach in Russia's more difficult political environment, just as similar approaches have had success in other locations with similar environments.

Equalia: $74,000

General support for farmed animal advocacy in Spain

We previously funded Equalia in July to support corporate cage-free campaigns and investigations. In the past four months, they have made significant progress on securing cage-free policies from several major retailers. We expect this grant to help expand their cage-free work and potentially support a new staff member focused on fish welfare (Equalia is a member of the newly formed Aquatic Animal Alliance). This seems promising given that Spain is the second-largest producer of farmed finfish in the EU. We look forward to monitoring Equalia's progress on new and existing initiatives over the next year.

Insect Welfare Project: $71,000

Finding the best opportunities to protect the welfare of farmed insects

Although insects are farmed and harmed in the trillions), no charity exists that directly addresses the welfare issues facing them. Objections have been raised whether insects are sentient and can experience pain and pleasure in a morally significant way. However, recent research on the topic provides some evidence in that direction. We believe that work on insect welfare could potentially be very impactful. Insect farming companies are currently raising hundreds of millions of dollars to expand production. Businesses are working to replace fishmeal with insects and on raising black soldier fly larvae on food waste, which could dramatically reduce the cost of rearing insects. If both projects succeed, potentially tens or hundreds of trillions of animals could be born into new farms. Therefore, we are excited to fund a project that aims to identify the best opportunities to ensure the protection of farmed insects.

Fish Welfare Initiative: $65,000

Securing improvements to fish welfare policy in India

This organization is taking an EA-aligned approach to addressing the plight of the largest group of vertebrate farmed animals: fish. After a year of research and strategizing, we're excited to see it focusing on securing institutional welfare commitments for farmed fish in India. This will be tough, but it's critical work in a country with around 7 billion farmed fish alive at any time (more than all mammals farmed globally). And we think the Initiative is well-positioned to make progress: it's hired an experienced Indian advocate to run its efforts, has worked closely with Indian advocates (several of whom spoke highly of its research), and has a clear initial goal (securing a commitment from a corporation, NGO, or government institution to improve welfare for at least 500,000 animals over five years).

Animals Aotearoa: $60k

General support for a promising new organization

Animals Aotearoa is a new organization that aims to campaign for corporate policy change to improve the lives of 130 million broiler chickens in New Zealand. This grant will support staff salaries and operating expenses to help the group get started. We look forward to supporting Animals Aotearoa and monitoring their progress on the first New Zealand initiative to secure broiler welfare policies in line with the European Chicken Commitment (ECC). Additionally, we expect this work to eventually have a ripple effect throughout the Asia-Pacific region, as New Zealand's two largest broiler producing companies are owned by corporations in Australia and the Philippines.

Anima International: $50,000

Agricultural investigations in Eastern Europe

Anima International is a coalition for groups that pursue a range of programs in Europe, including investigations, corporate campaigns, and public education. We think that Eastern Europe is currently a promising location for some types of animal advocacy work, since its animal agriculture industry is relatively large and its animal advocacy movement is relatively small. Despite Anima International being an ACE Standout charity, the organization receives limited support from most major funders. That means that some important programs of theirs, such as their work on investigations, aren't fully funded. With this grant, we are offering support for their work on investigations in countries such as Ukraine and Russia, to help foster the movement's growth in such neglected areas.

Aquatic Animal Alliance: $50,000

Initial support for a promising new coalition working on farmed fish

This is a new EA-aligned coalition focused on farmed aquatic animals. In a short amount of time, this group has accomplished a good amount, including having several major organizations join and sharing feedback on the standards of two important certifiers. We think this alliance could be a key tool for the movement as it may now be the premier alliance on farmed fish work. This means it could serve an important role in i) determining what groups will campaign for in this area, and then ii) coordinating the campaigns across groups. We see this area as quite important for the movement, given the large number of farmed fish and the relatively small amount of resources that currently goes towards them. We are excited to offer initial support to this potentially high-leverage venture.

Global Food Partners: $50,000

Promoting the transition away from battery cages across Asia

Global Food Partners is a relatively new group that works cooperatively with multinational food companies and Asian egg producers to transition their Asian supply chains to cage-free. This is important work: the majority of the world's caged layer hens are in Asia, where domestic cage-free campaigns are only just getting started. This grant will primarily support the development and operations of a virtual "Cage-Free Hub," a global producer database and resource centre. By connecting egg producers with businesses looking to source cage-free eggs, the project aims at increasing follow-up on cage-free pledges.

Fundación Vegetarianos Hoy: $46,000

Fish welfare legislative advocacy in Chile

Fundación Vegetarianos Hoy is a Chilean organization that has in recent years expanded from vegan and legal personhood advocacy to also campaigning on animal welfare reforms, like cage-free. It now wants to present a bill to the Chilean national congress on fish welfare. The odds of passing the bill are low.

But we think it's worth attempting due to the scale (~700M fish alive at any time in Chile) and potential spillover impacts (Chile would be one of the first countries in the world to regulate fish welfare). We also see potential benefits to even unsuccessful legislation in this case: raising public awareness of fish welfare, increasing the likelihood of corporate progress, and spurring more government scientific research on the topic.

Credence Institute: $40,000

Research to build the EAA movement across Africa

Credence Institute is a South African animal welfare organization helping to support the growth of the effective animal advocacy movement across Africa. With this funding, it aims to conduct a scoping review surveying and analyzing: 10-20 animal advocacy groups across all five African regions; 30-50 individual African animal advocates, state veterinarians, researchers, and government officials; and 15 Africans involved in other aspects of effective altruism. It also plans to conduct a literature review of studies on animal agriculture in Africa. Finally, it will publish a database and comprehensive report on animal welfare advocacy in Africa based on these findings. We hope the research, and the connections made during it, will set the basis for the Animal Welfare Fund and others to fund more African farm animal-focused organizations and advocates in the future.

Fórum Nacional de Proteção e Defesa Animal: $40,000

Cage-free work in Brazil

Fórum Animal engages in a variety of activities. These include campaigns to have corporations stop using gestations and battery cages, legislative work that attempts to ban live exports from Brazil, and non-legislative attempts to ban the sale and production of foie gras within Brazil. For now, we are most excited by their cage-free work, in large part because of the track record of that intervention and the way it benefits animals that are relatively numerous.

For several reasons, we think that Brazil is quite an important country in which to support further work. Many analyses cite Brazil as one of the globe's most important emerging markets, and in terms of total animal product consumption, Brazil seems to trail only the USA and China. Brazil also ranks within the world's top ten countries in terms of the total number of layer hens, with around 160 million* (~2.2% of the world's layer hen population).

*This spreadsheet compiles relevant data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Freedom and Respect for Every Earthling (F.R.E.E.): $30,000

General support for corporate and legislative cage-free initiatives

Freedom and Respect for Every Earthling (F.R.E.E.) is a Romanian based organization that has been working to secure corporate cage-free policies in partnership with the Open Wing Alliance since early 2019. During that time, F.R.E.E. has managed to secure over a dozen national cage-free commitments and run simultaneous awareness-raising campaigns to garner public support. This grant will support a new legislative campaign effort aimed at achieving a legal ban on cages in Romania, which would impact nearly 4.7 million egg-laying hens.

Crustacean Compassion: $25,000

Working toward humane treatment for decapod crustaceans

This group is pursuing an important goal: to achieve the humane treatment of decapod crustaceans, such as crabs and lobsters, in the UK; most specifically through lobbying for their inclusion in animal welfare legislation. We previously funded Crustacean Compassion in July 2020 and October 2019 to test their ability to make good use of funding. Since then, they have made strong progress on their goals. The UK government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has commissioned a review of the evidence for sentience in decapod crustaceans, due to be completed by January 2021. The following weeks and months thus represent a pivotal opportunity to achieve lasting change. We believe that Crustacean Compassion, supported by 56 scientists, lawyers and celebrities, is in the best place to campaign for this change.

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The resulting project, ModernFerma, seeks to become a credible, trusted partner that can convince producers, policymakers, and other influential Russian agriculture stakeholders of the economic case for reforms... It may also be an especially promising approach in Russia's more difficult political environment, just as similar approaches have had success in other locations with similar environments.

Huh, I wonder what this is referring to? I'd be keen to see examples of that.

Thanks for the question  Jamie. I was primarily thinking of the welfare capacity-building work  in China of the International Committee for Cooperation on Animal Welfare, Compassion in World Farming, World Animal Protection,  and the RSPCA. But there are also more limited examples with Humane Society International's work in Vietnam and India, WAP's work in Thailand, and some smaller groups' work in the Ukraine.