Consumer Preferences For Farm Animal Welfare
This 2007 survey found that the majority of Americans consume either meat or dairy products, and rate farm animal welfare low relative to other social issues like food safety and poverty. However, the results also show that there is consumer concern for farmed animal welfare, and there are trade-offs involved for industry improvement. This study was funded by the Farm Bureau, but the research is said to be independent.
- Vegans and vegetarians comprise .96% and 2.64% of the population, respectively.
- Human poverty, the U.S. healthcare system, and food safety are about 5 times more important to consumers than farm animal welfare; the financial well-being of farmers is more important than food prices or farm animal welfare.
- People believe the opportunity for animals to exhibit natural behavior and exercise outdoors is more important than protection from other animals or having comfortable shelters.
- 81% believe animals and humans have the same ability to feel pain, though most believe human suffering should take precedence over animal suffering. 62% believe farm animal welfare should be addressed despite human suffering.
- People are willing to allow up to 11,500 farm animals to suffer if the suffering of one human could be eliminated.
- Many are willing to pay a premium for improved animal welfare well-being; 70% believe that farmers should be compensated for imposing more stringent animal welfare standards.
- Two-thirds believe food companies will provide humanely raised meat if consumers want it.
- People believe that the government should take an active role in promoting farm animal well-being.
- Informing people about the benefit of gestation crates increases the percentage of those finding them humane by 27%.
- People believe animals have better lives on “small” farms as opposed to “large” farms.
- More than three-fourths believe that animals raised under higher welfare standards produce safer and better tasting meat.
- Equal percentages of people think that animal welfare should be based on expert opinion as those who think that it should be based on public opinion.
- 40% believe that ethics and morals should be used to determine how to treat farm animals, but about 45% believe scientific measures should be the determining factor.
- 95% say it is important to them how farm animals are cared for, but only 52% think the average American has the same concern. 76% feel that animal welfare is more important to them than low prices, but only 24% think the average American feels similarly.
Note that the full report is available online (see link to attachment below) and is 33 pages in length, with detailed information.