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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Farm Forward’s Ben Goldsmith Discusses Corporate Campaign Strategies

The Law, Ethics & Animals Program (LEAP) at Yale Law School hosted Ben Goldsmith, Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of Farm Forward, to discuss advocacy strategies for securing corporate policy changes.

Goldsmith’s visit, which took place on April 6, 2020, was part of LEAP’s new Climate, Animal, Food and Environment (CAFE) Law and Policy Lab. Goldsmith joined the CAFE Lab as a guest expert to share the story of how Farm Forward successfully campaigned Unilever to work to end the maceration of male breeding chicks, a common practice in the egg industry.

Over Zoom, Goldsmith described Farm Forward’s work to bring about industry-wide improvements for farmed animals, including male chicks. Because they are not of value to the egg industry, hundreds of millions of male chicks are culled in the U.S. each year. These chicks are often minced alive in an industrial macerator. In 2014, Farm Forward launched a campaign to pressure Unilever, the third-largest consumer goods company in the world, to end this practice because hundreds of millions of eggs are used in their brands.

Farm Forward’s campaign engaged hundreds of thousands of people through videos and petitions, and culminated in negotiations between Unilever, Farm Forward, and other animal protection groups. The campaign was ultimately successful: Unilever updated their animal welfare policy to meet Farm Forward’s standard, and agreed to invest in identifying and developing alternative practices and ingredients.

Goldsmith described how corporate campaigns align with Farm Forward’s broader mission to end factory farming and improve the lives of farmed animals. He advised students to “be clear about what corporate campaigns can and cannot accomplish. While we can place them in our toolkit,” he said that they may not be the appropriate tactic in every case. In addition to advocating elimination of the most cruel and inhumane farmed animal practices, Farm Forward also employs a variety of policy and advocacy strategies to “raise the ceiling” of farm animal treatment and animal welfare systems, helping to envision and realize an alternative food system in which animals live with dignity and well-being as part of sustainable, independent farms.

Goldsmith began his full-time animal advocacy work in 2004 and joined Farm Forward at its inception in 2007. With Goldsmith’s leadership, Farm Forward has developed a reputation for strategic innovation. Many of the largest animal protection groups in the country — such as the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Global Animal Partnership, the Humane Society of the United States, and others — hire and collaborate with Farm Forward for a range of consultations that have ultimately impacted the lives of hundreds of millions of farmed animals.

“Within the animal protection movement, Farm Forward is rightly recognized as one of the most visionary and effective advocacy firms going,” said LEAP Faculty Co-Director and Joseph M. Field ’55 Professor of Law Doug Kysar.  “We were so fortunate to engage with Ben Goldsmith and learn firsthand about the organization’s successes and its animating philosophies of justice and change.”

CAFE Lab guest experts provide real-world case studies to inspire bold and innovative thinking from student teams for their own final projects. In the CAFE Law & Policy Lab, multidisciplinary student teams are challenged to develop novel legal and policy strategies designed specifically to tackle intersectional and systemic food industry issues, such as animal welfare, worker rights, environmental protection, and public health.

The Law, Ethics & Animals Program (LEAP) is a new initiative at Yale Law School that leads and coordinates a diverse program of activities. It seeks to contribute to defining, expanding, and advancing the field of animal law. Spring 2020 marks the first semester of the CAFE Law and Policy Lab.