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Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan

Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

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Author(s): Geoffrey C. Evans
Publication Date: January 10, 2006
Reference: ANIMAL LAW 13 Animal L. 167-195 (2006)
Country: United States


This paper discusses the potential impacts animal activists could have on animal welfare if they attempted to push there wants through the courts by showing the potential increase in  value of converting from gestation stalls,  rather than trying to make change through public opinion. The economic theory of wealth maximization is proposed as a way to improve animal rights, stating: while people increasingly try to improve there own wealth and promote there own interest, people will be able to represent animal interests through there own. The paper sites that three quarters of Americans agree that farm animals should be free of controversial farming practices such as gestation crates but because of lack of information industrial agriculture producers continue to operate systems in which the public allegedly does not agree with. The paper suggests that legislation has potential to correct this market failure. Evans proposes that animal activists should focus on economic benefits when pushing legislation reforms. There are varying opinions about the economics of gestation crates but the paper argues that there are more positive economic results than negative. There are several studies which show welfare improvements to sows when using alternative housing systems which leads to the argument that the public is willing to pay more for pork if it is raised in a humane way.  Also stated is that pork has an inelastic demand, meaning if prices were to go up demand would not change significantly. Evans argues that even if there is an increase in cost to farmers from converting from gestation crates the marketing benefits will supplement the costs.

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