ARTICLE: EMPOWERING MARKET REGULATION OF AGRICULTURAL ANIMAL WELFARE THROUGH PRODUCT LABELING Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2013 Animal Law 
Animal Law

ARTICLE: EMPOWERING MARKET REGULATION OF AGRICULTURAL ANIMAL WELFARE THROUGH PRODUCT LABELING

2013

Animal Law

19 Animal L. 391

Author

By Sean P. Sullivan*

Excerpt



I. INTRODUCTION
 
Particularly in recent decades, the welfare of agricultural animals has become an issue of growing social salience. In many Western nations, rising public concern about the treatment of agricultural animals has resulted in the adoption of laws governing the treatment of animals. The United States (U.S.) has taken a different path, tending to rely on a "market-regulation" approach to the provision of animal welfare. Put simply, the market-regulation approach assumes that consumers will express their preferences for agricultural animal welfare in their purchasing decisions, thereby incentivizing producers to adopt desired welfare practices with dollars and obviating the need for direct governmental regulation of producer behavior.

In reality, however, there is little evidence that consumers in the U.S. demand heightened animal-welfare practices at market. The remainder of this Article explores the failure of market regulation and the welfare-preference paradox posed by consumers who express a strong preference for improved animal welfare in theory, but do not demand heightened animal welfare in practice. This Article argues that market regulation is failing in this country because current voluntary and nonstandard animal-welfare labeling practices do not clearly or credibly disclose to consumers the actual treatment of agricultural animals, creating a missing market for enhanced-welfare animal products. As a corollary, effective market regulation of agricultural animal welfare may be empowered simply by improving current labeling practices.

The remainder of this Article proceeds as follows: Part II provides background on the concept of agricultural animal welfare and its regulation in ...
 
 
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