Better Animal Welfare through Education

OHIO, US - Ahead of a possible future ban on layer cages in the state, an Ohio State University says that education, not regulation, and changing attitudes, not facilities, are the keys to improving animal well-being on the farm.
calendar icon 19 June 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

James Kinder, chair of Ohio State University's Department of Animal Sciences, said that the approach taken by the Humane Society of the United States to push for animal welfare legislation in Ohio is not an effective means of change.

"They are looking at it from the wrong perspective. Improvements in animal welfare have to be done through education instead of regulation," said Professor Kinder. "It's changing the attitudes and behaviours of the producers and the animal handlers that, at the end of the day, will have the greatest impact on animal well-being in agricultural production."

For the past several months, the Humane Society of the United States has been advocating for animal welfare legislation in Ohio, similar to what was passed in California last year. California's Proposition 2 mandates that as of 1 January 2015, it shall be a misdemeanour for any person to confine a pregnant pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in a manner not allowing the animal to turn around freely, stand up, lie down and fully extend its limbs.

The HSUS Ohio referendum specifically targets the laying hen and egg production industries, both of which rank second in the nation with a combined estimated value of over $650 million, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

If such legislation were to pass in Ohio, it would have a profound economic impact on Ohio's agriculture industry, from the livestock sector to field crop production. Luther Tweeten, an Ohio State University agricultural economist, proposes that the costs to the poultry industry would increase by at least 20 per cent, resulting in the loss of nearly 8,000 jobs and leaving Ohio uncompetitive in the market. The move would also impact field crop production, diminishing demand for corn and soybeans, since poultry consumes 22 percent of the state's crop production.

"The bottom line is that if change would occur, it would make the cost of production prohibitive in Ohio," concluded Professor Kinder.

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