Support For Farmed Animal Welfare Legislation In Ten Key U.S. States
Passing animal welfare legislation is a powerful tool to protect farmed animals, as it can impact millions or even billions of land animals when successful. Animal welfare legislation in the United States is typically enacted through ballot initiatives or through advocacy groups directly working with legislators to develop specific legislation. Ballot initiatives are a piece of legislation that are voted on by constituents after a certain number of petition signatures are collected by registered voters. Examples include the cage-free reforms such as Proposition 12 (California) and Question 3 (Massachusetts) which essentially prohibited farmed animal producers from confining certain animals in a space that prevents them from moving comfortably.
In states without ballot initiatives, advocates influence legislation through lobbying—that is, encouraging politicians to introduce and support new legislation. Legislators are more likely to amend legislation based on issues that their constituents are strongly in favor of (Bergan & Cole, 2015). As such, advocates using either method will benefit from data that compares the percentages of support and opposition for different pieces of farmed animal welfare legislation, as public support is one crucial aspect that should be considered when introducing or amending legislation. The purpose of this study was to understand the level of public support or opposition to farmed animal welfare legislation—from banning factory farms to funding alternative protein research and development (see Table 1)—in ten U.S. states where legal advocacy is underway or under consideration. Using representative samples, we polled approximately 1,000 participants from each of the following states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Advocates working in these states can use these findings to choose appropriate issues to target or to present to lawmakers as evidence of support.
This study examined the level of support or opposition to farmed animal welfare legislation in ten U.S. states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin. These states were chosen based on stakeholder discussions regarding where legal advocacy is underway or under consideration.
Sampling Method & Representativeness
Working with Ipsos, we used quota-based sampling to obtain samples that were matched proportionally to each state’s population. Data were collected from a total of 10,441 participants from September 23rd to November 7th, 2022, ahead of the midterm elections on November 8th.
The final sample sizes ranged from 1,027 to 1,068 per state, with an approximately 3% margin of error. See the Exclusion Criteria section of the Supplementary Materials for details of data cleaning.
To ensure that our estimates are as representative of each state as possible, we weighted the descriptive results using state demographics for gender, age, income, race/ethnicity, and political affiliation. While these weights did not substantially change most demographic breakdowns, thanks to the quota-based sampling method, there were a few demographic groups in most states that were over- or under-sampled by more than 10% compared to their proportion of the state population. These are listed in the Samples & Representativeness Details section of the Supplementary Materials.
The survey began with questions about participants’ support or opposition to seven pieces of hypothetical or real farmed animal welfare legislation, as shown below. The title above each is how they are referred to throughout the rest of the report.
Participants responded to each of the above using a 5-point Likert scale. The first two points, strongly oppose and somewhat oppose were combined into a single oppose percentage for the graphs throughout the report, while the midpoint was neither oppose nor support, and the final two points, somewhat support and strongly support, were combined into a single support percentage.
The cage-ban item was modified for California and Massachusetts to reflect that cage-free legislation already exists there. Participants from these states were asked about the extent to which they supported or opposed existing cage-free legislation being struck down. However, we ended up excluding this item because it appeared to confuse participants, likely because its focus on striking down legislation was the opposite of the other questions. Details of how we determined that are provided in the Measuring Support To Farmed Animal Welfare section of the Supplementary Materials. This item was presented last in the survey so any confusion did not affect responses to other questions.
After this set of questions, participants were asked to select up to five issues from a list of ten that they considered a priority in the upcoming November 2022 midterm elections. Farmed animal welfare was included as an issue on the list.
Additional details about the study procedure can be found in the Detailed Procedure section of the Supplementary Materials, and you can find the full survey here.
Full Report Access
Faunalytics strives to make as much of our data and reporting public as possible, in the interest of transparent and replicable scientific research. However, in certain cases we make the strategic decision to restrict distribution to animal advocates only, to ensure that the results will be used to benefit animals. To receive a copy of the report, please click below.
Behind The Project
The project’s lead author was Dr. Andrea Polanco, Zach Wulderk advised on the research design, analyses, and reporting, and Dr. Jo Anderson reviewed and oversaw the work.
We would like to thank several advocates who provided valuable input about this research throughout the process. We would also like to thank the Food System Research Fund and an anonymous funder for their generous support of this research.
At Faunalytics, we strive to make research accessible to everyone. We avoid jargon and technical terminology as much as possible in our reports. If you do encounter an unfamiliar term or phrase, check out the Faunalytics Glossary for user-friendly definitions and examples.
Research Ethics Statement
As with all of Faunalytics’ original research, this study was conducted according to the standards outlined in our Research Ethics and Data Handling Policy.