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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SAFEGUARDING WELL-BEING OF FOOD PRODUCING ANIMALS

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Title: Animal Welfare: A World of Change

Author
item Lay, Jr, Donald

Submitted to: JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE AND BIOTECHNOLOGY
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 24, 2013
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Concern for farm animal welfare is not a new concept. However, increased public pressure and an increasingly entangled global economy are effecting change across the world. The conversation about farm animal welfare is difficult because the world’s population has become disconnected from agricultural animals as industrialization allowed for migration of people from farms and into cities to make a living. With this disconnect has come a lack of understanding by non-agricultural people (the public) of the basic physiology, behavior, and needs of farm animals. In addition, as agricultural practices, like industrial practices, became more sophisticated and technical it quickly became the norm that the public lacks understanding of why and how these practices are used to produce animal products. However, there are also public concerns about farm animal welfare that are not due to this disconnect but instead due to real value differences on how animals should be treated given specific circumstances. Many decisions of what is acceptable animal welfare are being made by the general public at the grocery store. These decisions are highly influenced by advertisements mostly by non-government organizations whose goals are to either increase the level of farm animal welfare or to halt animal agriculture all together. Thus the consumers are making decisions using information from only one side of the argument. More recently agriculture industries have also started trying to influence the consumer’s decision about animal welfare. Regardless, consumers are making these decisions which have in turn created niche market opportunities focused on welfare attributes of animal products. Increasingly, international trade policies and market demands are influencing production practices in the global market, with countries being required to meet welfare standards of their trade partners. There is a consistently increasing concern for animal welfare across the globe. Although change is certain, the time frame in which changes to animal production practices are altered will vary based on each countries culture, economic strength, economic equality, social stability, and available resources.

Technical Abstract: Concern for farm animal welfare is not a new concept. However, increased public pressure and an increasingly entangled global economy are effecting change across the world. The conversation about farm animal welfare is difficult because the world’s population has become disconnected from agricultural animals as industrialization allowed for migration of people from farms and into cities to make a living. With this disconnect has come a lack of understanding by non-agricultural people (the public) of the basic physiology, behavior, and needs of farm animals. In addition, as agricultural practices, like industrial practices, became more sophisticated and technical it quickly became the norm that the public lacks understanding of why and how these practices are used to produce animal products. However, there are also public concerns about farm animal welfare that are not due to this disconnect but instead due to real value differences on how animals should be treated given specific circumstances. Many decisions of what is acceptable animal welfare are being made by the general public at the grocery store. These decisions are highly influenced by advertisements mostly by non-government organizations whose goals are to either increase the level of farm animal welfare or to halt animal agriculture all together. Thus the consumers are making decisions using information from only one side of the argument. More recently agriculture industries have also started trying to influence the consumer’s decision about animal welfare. Regardless, consumers are making these decisions which have in turn created niche market opportunities focused on welfare attributes of animal products. Increasingly, international trade policies and market demands are influencing production practices in the global market, with countries being required to meet welfare standards of their trade partners. There is a consistently increasing concern for animal welfare across the globe. Although change is certain, the time frame in which changes to animal production practices are altered will vary based on each countries culture, economic strength, economic equality, social stability, and available resources.

Last Modified: 8/1/2014
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