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Animal Rights: Negative Media Attention Impacts Meat Demand

September 22, 2010


Photo Credit: Flickr.com -Kiwi NZ

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

Media attention to animal welfare results in significant, negative effects on U.S. meat demand, according to a new analysis by Kansas State University. The study’s results are based on an extensive search of top U.S. newspapers and magazines from 1982 to 2008.

Disguised as animal welfare, the reality is that much of this attention is about animal rights. In his book A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy, Wesley J. Smith, clearly delineates the difference between animal welfare and animal rights. Our human exceptionalism imposes on us the responsibilities to treat animals humanely; animal welfare. This is a key precept of animal agriculture. Animal rights contends that animals have the same rights as you and me; animal rights.

Animal rights in Arizona took on its own life form when in 2006 we had to contend with Proposition 204 dealing with confined pig pens. Arizona Farm Bureau and other agriculture groups called it Hogwash.  We lost in the public arena; but under the banner of “animal rights in Arizona” we could still be dealing with animal activists in the future.

Back to the Study

According to the study researchers, the most direct effects of media attention were primarily associated with pork and poultry demand, although the beef industry is not immune. Increased media attention related to animal welfare led consumers to buy non-meat foods rather than switching among different types of meat, according to the study.

The study is the first to assess how media attention on animal welfare influences consumer meat purchases, according to the researchers. The report, U.S. Meat Demand: The Influence of Animal Welfare Media Coverage can be found online.

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