A scenario analysis on the implementation of a farm animal welfare assessment system
There have been important developments in the measurement of farm animal welfare in recent years. Measuring animal welfare is one thing, implementing a farm animal welfare assessment system another. The implementation of such a system occurs in an environment that is influenced by economic, political, technological and socio-cultural factors which interact with each other. This creates enormous complexity, generates a huge number of different potential 'futures', and makes the eventual impact that the system will have on the welfare of farm animals uncertain. This article draws upon strategic management literature to apply scenario analysis as a technique to help understand the variance of the uncertainty associated with the implementation of an animal welfare assessment scheme. Specifically, it develops two extreme scenarios based on a theoretical European-wide implementation: one scenario in which all uncertain factors influence the implementation of the assessment system in a negative way, and one scenario in which all these factors have positive impacts. These scenarios provide insight into the variance of possible futures in which the system may have to function. Although consumers are an important stakeholder group, their role in creating uncertainty for the system may be overestimated; it is apparent that the roles of companies, brands and certification organisations deserve significant attention, as well as any relevant institutional structure.
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