The American Humane Association last week released a new national survey of 5,900 Americans that the group says shows overwhelming popular support for the humane treatment of farm animals and humanely raised foods.
The survey is the second conducted by American Humane Association, and reveals that more than nine in ten respondents (94.9%) were very concerned about farm animal welfare, up from 89% in the 2013 study.
More than three-quarters (75.7%) stated that they were very willing to pay more for humanely raised eggs, meat, and dairy products, up from 74% last year.
For the second year in a row, in a ranking of the importance of food labels, "humanely raised" scored highest over "antibiotic-free," "organic," and "natural."
Impediments to people's choosing humane products was also explored: While one-third of those surveyed (35.3%) said they did purchase humanely raised foods, more than half (54.6%) said they were either not available (35.6%) or too expensive (19%).
Nearly one in ten (9%) said they did not know the difference.
'Humane table for the Holidays'
In conjunction with the survey release, the group visited Capitol Hill to urge Americans to "set a humane table for the holidays and support humane farm practices."
At the briefing, small, medium and large producers spoke out about the benefits of good farm animal welfare and their work to advance safe, affordable, and humanely raised food.
Kay Johnson Smith, president and CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, offered her thoughts about the importance of animal welfare on all size farms, and ensuring a safe and affordable food system in America.
"Animal welfare is not a new concept to America's farmers and ranchers – it is a responsibility they have taken seriously for centuries," Smith said. "But recognizing our society is now three to four generations removed from the farm and wants to know more about where their food comes from and how it's produced, the animal agriculture community recognized the need to demonstrate their care and commitment to their animals in a more concrete way.
"It's important to recognize that farm animal welfare is complex because how farm animals are raised impacts other important factors, such as food safety, the environment and costs, as well. It's not in the animals' – or the farmers' – best interest to make decisions about housing or space based on emotion, but rather on science and with a full understanding of how any change will impact these other important issues."
James Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, talked about how good animal welfare also translates to better health for families.
"America's dairy farmers have a long history of providing excellent care to their dairy cattle. In addition to the moral imperative of quality animal care, healthy, well-treated cows are the key factor in the production of high quality milk upon which dairy farmers' livelihoods depend," he said.
"Simply put, what's good for cows is good for the farmers who milk those cows. And this industry-wide commitment to proper animal health care provides millions of consumers with a safe, wholesome, high quality milk supply."