George pig at Farm Sanctuary
Farm Sanctuary

About Us

George pig at Farm Sanctuary

Changing Hearts and Minds

Safran steer and Carlee sheep

Farm Sanctuary was founded in 1986 to combat the abuses of factory farming, advocate for institutional reforms, and encourage a new awareness and understanding of farm animals and the benefits of cruelty-free, plant-based living. In recent years, science has confirmed the inhumane and destructive impact of animal agriculture — a food system based on interrelated oppression and injustice.

As the founding farm animal Sanctuary in the U.S., Farm Sanctuary has rescued and provided refuge for countless survivors of the animal agriculture system. Today, at Farm Sanctuary’s Los Angeles, CA and Watkins Glen, NY Sanctuaries you will find nearly 1,000 rescued animals—each with an individual story to tell. These survivors are ambassadors, representing the billions of farm animals currently in the system. They, and others like them, have changed the hearts and minds of a generation.

Safran steer and Carlee sheep

Our Mission

We pursue bold solutions to end animal agriculture and foster just and compassionate vegan living.
What We Do
Farm Sanctuary fights the disastrous effects of animal agriculture on animals, the environment, social justice, and public health through rescue, education, and advocacy.

Our Vision

We envision a world where Sanctuary replaces exploitation.
Turpentine turkey

 

 

 

Victories & Milestones

August 3, 1986

One Radical Act of Compassion

As a young activist, Co-founder Gene Baur sees an animal left for dead at a stockyard and makes the momentous decision to rescue her. That discarded sheep, named Hilda, stands as the first ambassador of the farm animal rescue movement.

1986

"No Downers" Campaign

After discovering Hilda and multiple other downed animals unable to move due to sickness or injury at the Lancaster Stockyards, Farm Sanctuary launches our “No Downers” Campaign. The campaign aims to prevent the inhumane transport and slaughter of these incapacitated and suffering animals through breaking investigations and public protests.

1987

Adopt a Turkey

Farm Sanctuary launches the annual Adopt a Turkey Project, encouraging people to save a turkey instead of eating one at Thanksgiving. The campaign continues to this day and has allowed us to reach millions of people with a message of compassion for these wonderful birds.

May 30, 1988

Lancaster Stockyards Demonstration

Farm Sanctuary unites 600 people at Lancaster Stockyards to demonstrate against the stockyard’s atrocities. Lancaster Stockyards agrees to release sick, injured, and unwanted animals to Farm Sanctuary, marking the first time that an animal protection organization is granted legal authority to remove animals from a livestock facility. This is an early victory in our No Downers campaign.

1988

Vegetarian Van & The Grateful Dead

Stocked with vegetarian food, cookbooks, and advocacy literature, Farm Sanctuary’s Vegetarian Van travels across the eastern half of the United States, building awareness around the problems associated with the production of meat, milk, and eggs, and raising funds for the fledgling organization by selling veggie hot dogs at The Grateful Dead concerts.

June 12, 1989

Vigil Against Veal

Hundreds of people from more than 20 states join Farm Sanctuary for the first-ever Vigil Against Veal, maintaining a constant vigil for three days on the doorstep of the American Veal Association’s convention in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

January 1, 1990

Watkins Glen, NY Sanctuary Opening

Farm Sanctuary establishes the first permanent farm animal sanctuary in the U.S., on 175 acres in Watkins Glen, NY.

1990

Anti-Veal PSA

Actress Lindsay Wagner collaborates with Farm Sanctuary on an anti-veal public service announcement, eventually reaching 70 markets throughout the U.S., and airing during the Oprah show in New York City.

1991

Downer Footage Goes National

NBC Network News airs startling Farm Sanctuary footage showing downed animals being dragged onto trucks, which prompts the nation’s largest stockyards to stop marketing downed animals and leads to the introduction of the Downed Animal Protection Act in Washington, DC the following year.

May 27, 1991

South St. Paul Stockyard Demonstration

Farm Sanctuary organizes a demonstration at the South St. Paul Stockyard to demand an end to blatant farm animal abuses. Almost 1,000 individuals convene at this unprecedented demonstration, which is the largest protest ever held for farm animals in the United States. United Stockyards Corporation—the largest stockyard conglomerate in the country—agrees not to accept downed animals at any of its locations.

1992

Burger King Veggie Burger

Farm Sanctuary persuades the Watkins Glen Burger King to sell a veggie burger. Its success leads to the introduction of the BK Veggie burger nationwide in 2002. As of 2019, Burger King now also sells their Impossible Whopper, using Impossible Food’s meatless patties.

1993

Orland, California Sanctuary Opening

Farm Sanctuary opens a sanctuary in Orland, California, establishing a presence in the nation’s top agricultural state.

September 16, 1995

The California Downed Animal Bill (SB 692)

Farm Sanctuary sponsors The California Downed Animal Bill (SB 692). Signed into law, the bill makes California the first state to enact legislation to prevent downed animal cruelties at stockyards and slaughterhouses. This sets a precedent for the humane treatment of farm animals and demonstrates to the livestock industry that cruelty to farm animals is no longer tolerable or legal.

September 25, 1997

Saying Goodbye to Hilda

After living on our pastures for nearly 11 years, Hilda passes away peacefully in her sleep on September 25, 1997. Farm Sanctuary establishes the Friends of Hilda Club in her honor.

November 21, 1998

Inaugural Celebration for the Turkeys

Farm Sanctuary hosts the first official Celebration for the Turkeys, inviting guests to our Orland shelter to feed a turkey instead of eating one for Thanksgiving. This tradition has been adopted by sanctuaries across the country.

June 1, 2000

Federal Food Win

Farm Sanctuary’s work around No Downers influences The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to issue an announcement stating that contractors who sell ground beef to the National School Lunch Program and other federal food and nutrition programs must source beef only from slaughter facilities that do not allow the processing of non-ambulatory cattle.

September 27, 2000

Buckeye Egg Farm Rescue

After tornadoes lay waste to the battery-cage warehouses at the Buckeye Egg Farm in Ohio, Farm Sanctuary helps more than 1,500 hens trapped in crushed and twisted metal cages.

2001

Mary Tyler Moore Chairs Sentient Beings Campaign

Farm Sanctuary launches its “Sentient Beings Campaign,” which works to improve the status of farm animals in the U.S. and to achieve basic legal protections; Mary Tyler Moore signs on as chair. The campaign results in over 60 government proclamations stating that farm animals are sentient beings, capable of awareness, feeling, and suffering.

2001

Landmark Cruelty Case

After discovering two chickens discarded in a trash can filled with the bodies of dead birds, Farm Sanctuary brings a cruelty lawsuit against ISE Corporation—one of the largest egg producers in the northeastern region of the United States. This case marks the first time in the country that a factory farm is found guilty of cruelty for abandoning sick and injured “laying hens.” The conviction is later overturned on appeal.

2002

Cattaragaus Rescue

SPCA investigators alert Farm Sanctuary to a massive cruelty case in Cattaraugus County, New York, where animals are left to starve in bitter cold temperatures. More than 100 surviving pigs, some frozen to the ground, are brought to Sanctuary for emergency care and are later adopted into loving homes across the U.S. through our Farm Animal Adoption Network.

November 5, 2002

Florida Outlaws Gestation Crates

Farm Sanctuary sponsors the landmark “Floridians for Humane Farms” ballot initiative. 2.5 million Floridians vote YES on Amendment 10 to outlaw gestation crates, making Florida the first state to ban the cruel practice.

December 30, 2003

The USDA Bans Slaughter of Downed Cows

After years of Farm Sanctuary advocating against the mistreatment and slaughter of downed animals—and just days after the first reported case of mad cow disease is discovered in a downed cow—the USDA passes a historic ban on the slaughter of downed cows for human consumption.

September 29, 2004

California Bans Foie Gras

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs Farm Sanctuary-sponsored S.B. 1520 into law, banning the force-feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras, as well as the sale of the cruel product in California. In 2019, the law finally goes into full effect after repeated legal challenges from the foie gras and restaurant industries delay its enforcement, with Farm Sanctuary supporting the ban every step of the way.

September 12, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Rescue

After Hurricane Katrina devastates the Southeast, colossal warehouse-like poultry farms lie in ruins. Farm Sanctuary rescues 725 chickens from a broiler chicken facility under contract with Tyson Foods that was ravaged in rural Mississippi. The chickens, like millions of farm animals across the South following the disaster, had been left to die or be bulldozed into mass graves.

November 7, 2006

Arizona Follows in Florida's Footsteps ... And Ups the Ante

Four years after Florida’s precedent-setting ban of gestation crates, Arizona becomes the second state in the U.S. to outlaw this cruel practice by overwhelmingly voting “Yes on Proposition 204.” Arizona takes it a step further by becoming the first state to also ban veal crates. Farm Sanctuary is a primary backer and steering committee member, along with The Humane Society of the U.S., Arizona Humane Society, and Animal Defense League of Arizona.

2007

Escape from New York

Farm Sanctuary rescues more than 200 animals from live markets in New York City this year: notably Maxine, the cow from Queens – her rescue becomes one of the largest media stories of the year for Farm Sanctuary, putting a spotlight on these city slaughterhouses that hide in plain sight.

2007

Wolfgang Puck Campaign

After a two-year Farm Sanctuary campaign, Wolfgang Puck announces that he is removing foie gras and crated veal from his menus, as well as implementing a nine-point plan addressing animal welfare concerns, including the addition of more vegetarian options throughout his businesses.

March 4, 2008

Telling the Story of Farm Sanctuary

Co-founder Gene Baur’s first book, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food is released. The book traces the roots of Farm Sanctuary, relating stories about rescued animals, accounts of factory farm conditions, groundbreaking campaign efforts, and offers practical solutions for citizens to make a difference. Dr. Jane Goodall praises the book, saying, “Filled with hope, this book is written for all who strive for a more compassionate world.”

November 4, 2008

Prop 2 Passes in California

California makes history for farm animals again when Prop 2 passes with 63% of the vote. The initiative bans three of the cruelest factory farming confinement systems – battery cages, veal crates, and gestation crates – in the state. Farm Sanctuary is a co-leader of this campaign and is instrumental in getting Prop 2 on the ballot and passed.

2009

California Ends Cruel Tail-Docking

After Farm Sanctuary successfully pressures the AVMA to take a position against tail-docking dairy cows, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a tail-docking bill, ending the painful and unnecessary amputation of dairy cows’ tails in the state.

September 1, 2011

West Coast Expansion

Farm Sanctuary expands rescue and education efforts to Southern California with the addition of the established Animal Acres shelter in Acton, CA as our third Sanctuary.

2011

Martha Stewart Welcomes Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary goes mainstream when Gene Baur appears on The Martha Stewart Show’s first-ever “vegan episode,” educating millions of viewers about the treatment of animals raised for food and promoting plant-based living.

2014

Ag-gag Defeat

Farm Sanctuary, as part of a coalition with more than thirty animal rights, environmental, and social justice non-profits, defeats “ag-gag” bills that aim to criminalize investigations of agriculture facilities in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont.

April 7, 2015

A Toolkit for the Movement

Gene Baur and Farm Sanctuary release Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day, as a toolkit for the growing vegan movement.

March 19, 2016

Return to Cattaraugus

Farm Sanctuary collaborates with the Cattaraugus County SPCA to rescue 180 animals from cruelty and neglect and arrange placement for more than 200 others. After a months-long custody battle, we win the rights to keep these animals safe and healthy at Sanctuary.

2016

Accolades from Oprah

Gene Baur is included as one of Oprah’s Super Soul 100’s Soul Givers, “a collection of 100 awakened leaders who are using their voices and talent to elevate humanity.”

2016

Question 3 in Massachusetts

As a founding member of Citizens for Farm Animals Coalition in Massachusetts, Farm Sanctuary helps secure a 77-percent victory for Question 3, banning cruel confinement practices for breeding pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens.

2017

Humane Education Launch

Farm Sanctuary launches our Humane Education program, introducing middle and high school students in the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas to farm animals through an innovative program including a virtual-reality sanctuary tour. In 2019, the program expands into schools throughout the Los Angeles area.

February 2017

Live-Streaming our Sanctuaries

Farm Sanctuary partners with Explore.org to offer a live-streaming window into Farm Sanctuary life, introducing online viewers worldwide to cows, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, and other farm animals through live-cam technology.

February 21, 2018

New York Expansion

Farm Sanctuary expands our New York Sanctuary with 96 contiguous acres of forest and grassland, allowing for the creation of more natural habitats for our residents, including a pig forest. The addition of four new barns enables us to make the strategic decision to close our remote Northern California Sanctuary and relocate the animals to our Acton and Watkins Glen Sanctuaries, which receive thousands of visitors per year.

September 3, 2019

USA Today Accolades

Farm Sanctuary makes USA Today’s list of 10 amazing animal sanctuaries in the United States.

September 19, 2019

Humane Education Award

Farm Sanctuary receives the 2019 Excellence in Humane Education Award from the Humane Education Coalition.

October 2019

New York City Bans Foie Gras

Farm Sanctuary joins a coalition that successfully bans the sale of foie gras throughout New York City—one of the country’s largest markets.

December 2019

Suing the USDA Over Slaughter Line Speeds

Farm Sanctuary and six other vegan organizations sue the USDA over the decision to reduce supervision at pig slaughterhouses and remove limits on the speed with which they send animals to slaughter.

February 11, 2020

Run To the Rescue With Love

A day after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor, and subsequently making a headlining acceptance speech in which he speaks to the plight of mother cows and their babies used in animal agriculture, Joaquin Phoenix helps to liberate a cow and her newborn calf—whom he later names Liberty and Indigo—from a Los Angeles slaughterhouse, and brings them to Farm Sanctuary. The story reaches millions of people with a message of hope.

June 12, 2020

North Carolina ‘Anti-Sunshine’ Law Struck Down as Unconstitutional

Farm Sanctuary works with a coalition of animal protection, consumer rights, food safety, and whistleblower protection organizations to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s “Anti-Sunshine Law”—one of a growing number of “ag-gag” laws passed by state legislatures across the country designed to prevent undercover investigators from exposing unsafe practices and animal welfare violations conducted by employers. A federal judge strikes down the law as unconstitutional.

Hilda Sheep

August 3, 1986

One Radical Act of Compassion

As a young activist, Co-founder Gene Baur sees an animal left for dead at a stockyard and makes the momentous decision to rescue her. That discarded sheep, named Hilda, stands as the first ambassador of the farm animal rescue movement.

Leadership

  • Megan Watkins

    Chief Executive Officer

  • Gene Baur

    President and Co-founder

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