Forum :: 6th Expert Forum on Farm Animal Well-being

6th Expert Forum on Farm Animal Well-being, Bilbao (Spain), 2013

6th Expert Forum on Farm Animal Well-being

Clearer food labelling and increased veterinary involvement seen as key to meeting consumer demand for improved food chain transparency. The veterinary profession has just as important a role to play in promoting high farm animal welfare to the consumer as it does in helping to drive improvements on farm. This was one of the main messages delivered to the veterinary profession at the sixth Boehringer Ingelheim Expert Forum on Farm Animal Well-Being in Bilbao, Spain.
Nearly 100 vets attending the forum were advised that clearer food labelling and greater involvement by vets in the farm auditing and advisory process would help meet growing consumer demands for transparency in the food chain.

LECTURES

Prof. Frauke Ohl

Can the well-being of an animal be measured objectively?

Prof. Frauke Ohl

University Utrecht, The Netherlands

There is no consensus on how to measure the welfare status of an animal objectively or the welfare implications of any given management practice. Every definition of animal welfare is influenced by the moral or ethical standards of society. We must, therefore, recognise that objectivity in analysis codes inevitably to the subjectivity of ethical assessment when determining whether a welfare status is or is not ‘acceptable’ to society. Thus the ‘translation’ of welfare assessments into management practice and the way in which that management practice is viewed by society are both affected markedly by public understanding and public attitudes.

Dr. Emma Roe

Is farm animal welfare a commodity?

Dr. Emma Roe

University of Southampton, UK

In response both to consumer demand and greater ethical engagement with the lives of animals, animal welfare is increasingly being commodified by various food chain actors. That is to say that, over and above regulatory or assurance scheme compliance, welfare conditions and criteria are being used as a ‘value-added’ component or distinctive selling point for food products, brands or even particular manufacturers and retailers. Such a commodification process has major implications on both the definition and the assessment of animal welfare.

Sophie de Graaf

Marketing animal welfare as a quality characteristic of milk

Sophie de Graaf

Ghent University, Belgium

To stimulate the dairy industry to address welfare problems in dairy cattle, it is not only important that the evaluation of welfare is valid, but also that the welfare monitoring process meets various needs such as communication to the consumer, or acceptability by the farmer and the industry as a whole.

Sean Wensley

Should veterinary surgeons promote higher welfare food to consumers?

Sean Wensley

People‘s Dispensary for sick Animals (PDSA), UK

The public is comfortable consuming animal-derived products provided the animals had a good quality of life and a humane death. Farmers might be keen to change the ways in which they operate, provided that there is a market for the product. It is therefore clear that greater communication with the buying public is needed, to raise awareness of the issues, and advise them on what products to buy to support animal well-being.

Prof. John McInerney

In what sense does animal welfare have an economic value?

Prof. John McInerney

University of Exeter, UK

The value we place on things is reflected by what we are willing to pay or give up, for them. But this varies widely across individuals depending on income, personal preferences, awareness, experience, nationality, social context, etc, etc. So asking whether some animal welfare change “is worth it” can lead to no usefully specific answer. Furthermore, “prices” are unreliable as a proxy for value since they are susceptible to so many distortions – and don’t exist for values that are not traded anyway. Changes in animal welfare standards are driven partly by regulation (‘public choice’) and partly by consumption preferences (‘private choice’) in the market for food products. To guide policy it is useful to have a framework for assessing the impact of changes in welfare standards on the supply price of food and the welfare of consumers.

Dr. Francesco Testa

On-farm welfare audits… An opportunity for the veterinary profession?

Dr. Francesco Testa

Bergamo, Italy

The humane treatment of animals is important to everyone, and it’s quickly becoming a key criterion for consumers evaluating food products in the grocery store aisle. Auditing veterinarians could deliver third-party evaluation and certification to ensure that producers are adhering to animal welfare standards at the farm level.

Ignacio Blanco-Traba

Animal welfare standards – Example of McDonald’s supply chain

Ignacio Blanco-Traba

McDonald’s Europe

Robust quality system and global standards for production – including animal welfare standards – are required throughout the food chain to ensure long term quality, quantity and affordability of McDonald’s supply chain needs.

Dr. David C.J. Main

Farm animal welfare: What’s behind labels?

Dr. David C.J. Main

University of Bristol, UK

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the characteristics of the products that they purchase. Increasing numbers are looking to buy those with a stated welfare provenance. Retailers, caterers and other suppliers should, therefore, provide information that satisfies the purchaser about these characteristics. There is provision at the EU level for a harmonised Farm animal welfare label. That would allow for the better promotion of products which have been produced in line with animal welfare requirements, and a differentiation between those obtained with basic mandatory animal welfare standards and those with higher standards.

Miyun Park

Global Animal Partnership and the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards Program

Miyun Park

Global Animal Partnership, USA

Assuring the consumer on animal welfare is a key objective for many farm assurance schemes or certification schemes. Producers must adhere to standards which define many aspects of animal husbandry. Global Animal Partnership developed the “5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards”. The very structure of the 5-Step program encourages higher welfare practices and systems to the benefit of farmers, consumers, retailers, and the animals.

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