High Consumer Animal Welfare Concern Low Level of Understanding Creates Communication Challenge

Farmscape for February 10, 2016

A professor in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia observes the public's level of concern on matters relating to animal welfare is much higher than its level of awareness of the complexity of the issues, creating a major communication challenge.
Over the past 40 years the public's interest in issues related to animal welfare has increased exponentially.
Dr. David Fraser, a professor in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia, told those on hand last week in Winnipeg for the 2016 Manitoba Swine Seminar, the major retailers, processors, and restaurant chains, need to work together to deliver a comprehensive program of animals welfare rather than simply trying to communicate simple messages to the public.

Clip-Dr. David Fraser-University of British Columbia:
We need to create programs that take account the complexity and difficulty of achieving good animal outcomes in production systems.
I see a lot of public concern not matched by a high level of awareness of the complexity of the issues.
To achieve good animal welfare outcomes on a farm requires attention to handling, nutrition, disease prevention, comfortable environments, pain mitigation and so on.
Where as the public tends to associate good animal welfare with very simple labels and slogans like cage-free or free range.
Those basically define production systems but don't guarantee welfare standards and I think that mismatch between a high level of public concern but a low level of complexity of public understanding is one of our challenges.

Dr. Fraser suggests the critical first step is for the animal production sectors to become organized in a way that ensures they are achieving high welfare outcomes and once that's achieved that would be a great message to communicate to the public.
For Farmscape.Ca,, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

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