Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Humane treatment

A study from the University of Kansas and University of Michigan supports the idea that consumers will pay more for information on humane animal treatment. It's a cautionary report from sources entrenched in supporting the food animal industry.

"When initially asked, 61.7% and 62.0% of survey respondents indicated they would be in favor of mandatory labeling of pork produced on farms using gestation crates/stalls and of eggs produced using laying hen cages, respectively. A series of subsequent survey questions were asked and models estimated to evaluate demand for mandatory labeling. The typical U.S. resident was estimated to be willing to pay about 20% higher prices for pork and egg products in exchange for mandatory labeling information conveying the use (or lack thereof) of gestation crates/stalls or laying hen cages. This estimate is prone to what economists call hypothetical bias suggesting it may overstate actual demand and hence should probably be considered an upper-bound . Several factors were identified to influence the willingness to pay of survey respondents. Females and younger consumers stated higher demand. The perceived accuracy of animal welfare information provided by livestock industries relative to consumer groups was also identified as an important demand determinant."

I liked that women and younger people were more concerned than men and older people. The market of the future will demand better treatment for their animals.

The August 2011 issue of National Geographic features Homes for Hens, photographed by Ed Thompson in England.

"Does a coddled hen catch your eye? It is a curious sight. But it also represents a serious issue. Year-and-a-half-old hens in British battery farms—known as factory farms in the U.S.—are deemed expendable, despite having several years to live and many eggs to give. These images show how folks are opening their hearts and homes to these refugee birds."

These people are not only willing to spend more for humane treatment, they are willing to step up and provide better treatment for hens who have been in that industrial system to make their lives better. I hope the members of the American Egg Board read National Geographic!

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