Sunday, December 09, 2007

I beg to differ...

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.


Anonymous said...

You are forgetting about dks factor about raising livestock, and farming in general. The only frame of reference they have might be anthropomorphism. Perhaps they accept that it is raised in an acceptable manner according to guidelines, and accepted animal handling and raising practices that are being used. Maybe they have trust. Do you? I KNOW that a happy animal is the most productive. Do you? I was disappointed by your inferences about the Farm Bureau. I want them to get the info correct too, but I don't accuse them of 'propagandaizing' their results in search of opinions.I can assure you that the Humane Society puts spin on their questions and results. You would do well to support such an organization(FArm Bureau) that has helped so much in getting the farmers voice heard, and supports our business. But perhaps, your income from comments is more important now. Again, I am disappointed in you.

John Phipps said...


I do get FB's case often simply because the spin factor is becoming pretty heavy-handed IMHO.

As for this dispute, one thing we have learned from the Internet is to LINK TO THE ACTUAL REPORT. I could not find it, and whether it comes from Humane or FB, if it doesn't allow me to read the source document, my eyebrows raise.

Additionally, your post uses the term accept; I used tolerate. Neither is synonymous with approve. It is this slight verbal shading that I consider spin, and might agree with if I could scan the data myself.

As to my income from commenting, wouldn't that bias make me more likely to post opinions that are agreeable to the legions of FB members/readers?

My personal life and finances are fair game, I have learned, but this inference seems backwards to me.

BTW, for other readers, the "dks" reference was a new one for me. "Don't know s___", right?