After surveying consumers about food and animal welfare for Farm Bureau, researcher Bailey Norwood executes a deft spin on logic to achieve what may have been the desired result.
The second lesson is that consumers understand animal welfare is a result of their shopping decisions, in addition to farmer decisions. A majority of consumers believe their personal food choices have a large impact on the well-being of farm animals, and that if consumers desire higher animal welfare standards, food companies will provide it. Thus, when consumers choose to purchase traditional meat instead of more expensive meat raised under alternative production systems (e.g. organic meat or free-range meat), they understand that their purchase directly determines the level of animal care provided. If consumers are happy purchasing traditional meat, this signifies they approve of the animal care provided on traditional farms. [More][My emphasis]I think this is a stretch. At most it "signifies" indifference or lack of disapproval. In fact, I doubt if you would get many to say they approve of most modern animal feeding practices, but are willing to tolerate them. That for me is not the same as "approval". A fine point to be sure, but the words have weight.
I do not share the sensitivities of most animal rightists. Nor do I believe anthropomorphism of domestic species is useful or supported by fact.
This study raises a warning flag for me. I can find no obvious link to the actual research report, merely the researcher's conclusions. How the questions were phrased would be good to know, for example.
And like me, the fact that Farm Bureau was involved to an undisclosed degree alerted non-farm media to a possible spin factor.