Animal Law Review

First Page



In many Western nations, rising public concern about the welfare of agricultural animals is reflected in the adoption of direct regulatory standards governing the treatment of these animals. The United States has taken a different path, tending to rely on a “market-regulation” approach whereby consumers express their desire for specific welfare practices through their purchasing decisions. This Article explores the failure of market regulation and the welfare-preference paradox posed by consumers who express a strong preference for improved animal welfare in theory, but who simultaneously fail to demand heightened welfare standards in practice. It argues that market regulation is failing in this country because current animal-welfare labeling does not clearly or credibly disclose to consumers the actual treatment of agricultural animals. As a corollary, effective market regulation of agricultural animal welfare could be empowered simply by improving current animal-welfare labeling practices.



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