Open Dialogue Key to Maintaining Consumer Trust in Animal Welfare Issues

CANADA - A professor of agriculture with Newcastle University suggests, by maintaining a frank open dialogue, Canada's livestock producers will be better positioned to retain the trust of consumers when it comes to animal welfare issues, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 16 March 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

While the public has always been interested in animal welfare, fewer and fewer of the public have a close connection with farming these days which means their perception of animal welfare is perhaps less well informed than it may have been previously.

Dr Sandra Edwards, a professor of agriculture with Newcastle University, says in Canada there is a great deal of trust between the general public and the agriculture industry which is something that in Europe was neglected and lost and she is hopeful that mistake won't be repeated in Canada.

Dr Sandra Edwards-Newcastle University:

I think the starting point is we have to try and maintain trust between the public and farming, that both farmers and consumers fundamentally want good welfare for their animals.

At the minute they maybe have slightly different ideas of what that means and slightly different understanding of what goes on but I think if the people on both sides can accept that the others in good faith want good welfare then we have a starting point for a constructive dialogue.

As scientists we've summarized the needs for swine welfare in essentially four categories, good feeding, good housing, good health and appropriate behavior.

As scientists what we have to try and do is to demonstrate from the pig's point of view what good welfare means.

If we can do that, I think people on both sides of the debate can reach a consensus.

Dr Edwards is confident, by engaging in dialogue and by showing good faith, the Canadian livestock industry should be able to retain the public's trust, and that is good for all concerned.

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