Limitations on the Confinement of Food Animals in the United States
Citizen petitions and legislative bills in seven states in the US have established space and movement limitations for selected species of farm animals. These actions show Americans becoming concerned about the humane treatment of confined farm animals, and willing to use governmental intervention to preclude existing confinement practices. The individual state provisions vary, including the coverage of species. All seven states deal with sow-gestation crates, five states address veal calf crates, and two states’ provisions also apply to battery cages used for egg-laying hens. The actions show citizen and legislative opposition to current animal production practices, and suggest a movement to provide better treatment for farm animals. Accompanying the actions are challenges for animal production industries in remaining competitive while meeting social expectations on the ethical treatment of food animals. While the actions are only a small step in addressing welfare issues, they may be the beginning of a significant movement to do more to address human and animal welfare issues.
KeywordsAnimal welfare Battery cages Food animal confinement Gestation crates Humane treatment of animals Space and movement limitations
I would like to thank the several anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. The research presented here is based on work supported by the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES), U.S. Department of Agriculture Project No. GEO00526.
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