Date of this Version
Center for Applied Rural Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, July 2011. Center Research Report 11-2. 19 p.
The manner in which food animals are produced, shipped and processed has been in the news lately. Specifically at question is whether or not current livestock practices adequately ensure the welfare of food animals. With a sizable animal agriculture production sector in the state of Nebraska, this is an important issue. How do rural Nebraskans feel about animal welfare issues? Do their opinions differ by age, education or their experience with livestock production?
This paper provides a detailed analysis of these questions. This report details 2,490 responses to the 2011 Nebraska Rural Poll, the sixteenth annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions about animal welfare. For all questions, comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, that is, comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:
-Almost all rural Nebraskans recognize the importance of livestock and poultry production to the state’s economy.
-Most rural Nebraskans are familiar with livestock care practices. Many rural Nebraskans have experience raising beef cattle, poultry and swine. They have less experience with dairy production.
-Most rural Nebraskans believe animal welfare means providing adequate exercise, space and social activities for the animals in addition to food, water and shelter.
-Most rural Nebraskans trust livestock farmers, especially on family farms, and their veterinarians to care for their animals.
-Most rural Nebraskans believe that current regulation of the state’s livestock practices is adequate to ensure animal welfare. Persons with agriculture occupations are more likely than persons with different occupations to agree that current regulation of Nebraska livestock practices is adequate to ensure the welfare of food animals. Persons with agriculture occupations are more likely than persons with different occupations to disagree with the statement that more regulation of livestock practices is needed to ensure the welfare of food animals.
-Most rural Nebraskans believe regulation will impact the cost of food. Persons working in agriculture are more likely than persons with different occupations to believe regulation will impact food prices.