Localism, Labels, and Animal Welfare

Wiseman, Samuel R. | January 2, 2018

The law does relatively little to improve the welfare of animals raised for food. In the short term, at least, market-based solutions appear to have more promise as a means of promoting farm animal welfare, as consumers increasingly seek out local and humanely-raised meat and eggs. To aid consumers in identifying these products, certification systems of varying degrees of rigor exist, but even these are of little use to consumers in the restaurant context, which accounts for a large percentage of meat consumption. Patrons see only finished meals, making fraud difficult to detect, and a recent newspaper investigation suggests that fraud may indeed be widespread. Solving this problem likely involves a combination of heightened regulatory efforts and activism from local agriculture and animal welfare groups.