Five Purdue University researchers were among the authors of a new report examining the scientific, ethical and economic aspects of farm animal welfare. The report, published by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), shows a growing emphasis on animal welfare regulations, with increased collaboration between scientists and philosophers to address agricultural bioethics. It was released late April in Washington, D.C. during a legislators’ briefing hosted by the American Farm Bureau, Animal Agriculture Alliance, and National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research.
“The report authors recognize that the issue of animal welfare is multifaceted and involves consideration of not only the biology and psychology of animals, but also people’s ethical concerns,” said Candace Croney, director of the Center for Animal Welfare Science at Purdue, who served as co-chair of the CAST Task Force that compiled the report. Croney holds a joint appointment as professor of animal behavior and well-being in the College of Veterinary Medicine and professor of animal sciences in the College of Agriculture.
“Addressing the scientific aspects of animal welfare is challenging and complicated,” Croney said. “This paper demonstrates the need for strategic engagement related to science and ethics when communicating with a wide range of interested stakeholders.”
The report is an update to a 1997 CAST report on the wellbeing of agricultural animals. “Throughout the past 21 years, livestock and poultry industries have felt pressure to move toward alternative production practices,” Croney said. “As the report authors point out, it is imperative to understand which systems and practices may optimize economic efficiencies in conjunction with ensuring positive animal welfare outcomes and public support of animal agriculture.”
In addition to Croney, other Purdue representatives on the task force were William Muir, animal sciences professor and task force co-chair; Jayson Lusk, distinguished professor and agricultural economics department head; Nicole Olynk Widmar, agricultural economics professor; Allan Schinckel, animal sciences professor.
The full report can be purchased online in hardcopy format for $50 or as a PDF download for $10 (free for CAST members) t.