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Measuring the value to the public of pig welfare improvements: a contingent valuation approach

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Abstract:

The welfare of farm animals is a policy area that has increased greatly in importance in recent years. When deciding whether a proposed policy should be implemented, it can be useful for policymakers to compare the costs of the proposed improvement with the perceived benefits. The costs are relatively straightforward to calculate but little is known about the benefits. The Contingent Valuation Method (CVM), a direct survey-based method, can be used to shed some light on this. This approach elicits the willingness-to-pay (WTP) for the provision of some public good or service. This paper reports the results of a contingent valuation study of the value of welfare improvements for growing pigs. Attitudes and opinions with regard to farm animal welfare are explored and WTP elicited for various pig welfare improvements including increases in space allowance, environmental enrichment and research into improved pig housing design. The results reveal a positive WTP for these improvements. However, it is also noteworthy that a significant proportion of the general public is willing to pay nothing for these improvements. Overall, the study illustrates the usefulness of the CVM approach as a tool for policymakers in assessing the merits of possible policy initiatives affecting the welfare of animals.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; CONTINGENT VALUATION; PIGS; SPIKE MODELS; SUBSTITUTION EFFECTS; WILLINGNESS-TO-PAY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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