Qualitative Stakeholder Analysis for the Development of Sustainable Monitoring Systems for Farm Animal Welfare

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Abstract

Continued concern for animal welfare may be alleviated when welfare would be monitored on farms. Monitoring can be characterized as an information system where various stakeholders periodically exchange relevant information. Stakeholders include producers, consumers, retailers, the government, scientists, and others. Valuating animal welfare in the animal-product market chain is regarded as a key challenge to further improve the welfare of farm animals and information on the welfare of animals must, therefore, be assessed objectively, for instance, through monitoring. Interviews with Dutch stakeholder representatives were conducted to identify their perceptions about the monitoring of animal welfare. Stakeholder perceptions were characterized in relation to the specific perspectives of each stakeholder. While producers tend to perceive welfare from a production point of view, consumers will use visual images derived from traditional farming and from the animals’ natural environments. Scientists’ perceptions of animal welfare are affected by the need to measure welfare with quantifiable parameters. Retailers and governments (policy makers) have views of welfare that are derived from their relationships with producers, consumers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and scientists. All interviewed stakeholder representatives stated that animal welfare is important. They varied in the extent to which they weighted economic considerations relative to concern for the animals’ welfare. Many stakeholders emphasized the importance of communication in making a monitoring system work. Overall, the perspectives for the development of a sustainable monitoring system that substantially improves farm animal welfare were assessed as being poor in the short term. However, a reliable system could be initiated under certain conditions, such as integrated chains and with influential and motivated stakeholders. A scheme is described with attention points for the development of sustainable monitoring systems for farm animal welfare in the long term.