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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Private Animal Welfare Standards - Opportunities and Risks

Lundmark, Frida; Berg, Charlotte; Rocklinsberg, Helena

Abstract

Simple Summary In all European countries, farmers keeping animals must comply with European and national animal welfare legislation. Each government has a responsibility to make sure that the legislation is complied with by the farmers. However, during the last decades it has become increasingly common that private organisations, such as the industry, farmers' organisations, or animal welfare organisations, develop additional animal welfare regulations (private standards') that the farmers also need to comply with. These private standards have the opportunity to improve animal welfare above the legislative level, however, in our study we have shown that this is not always the case and that all of these different private standards, in addition to the legislation, makes it difficult to get an overview of the animal welfare regulation and control arena. For the sake of the farmers, the animal welfare inspectors, the consumers, and the animals we conclude that it is important that policymakers consider this arena as a whole and not their own regulation as a single phenomenon.Abstract The current shift moves the governance of animal welfare away from the government towards the private market and the consumers. We have studied the intentions, content, and on-farm inspection results from different sets of animal welfare legislation and private standards with an aim to highlight the most important opportunities and risks identified in relation to the trend of increasingly relying on private standards for safeguarding or improving farm animal welfare. Our results show that different focuses, intentions, animal welfare requirements, inspection methods (i.e., methods for measuring and evaluating the compliance with a regulation), and inspection results, together with the use of vague wordings and a drive towards more flexible regulations does certainly not facilitate the interpretation and implementation of animal welfare regulations, especially not in relation to each other. Since farmers today often have to comply with several animal welfare regulations, including private standards, it is important to stress that a given regulation should never be seen as a single, stand-alone phenomenon, and the policymakers must hence consider the bigger picture, and apply the standards in relation to other existing regulations. This is especially relevant in relation to the legislation, a level that a private standard can never ignore.

Keywords

animal welfare; audit; compliance; inspection; legislation; official control; private market; private standard; regulation

Published in

Animals
2018, Volume: 8, number: 1, article number: 4