There are a number of circumstances that
slow down improvements in animal welfare.
- The free market.
The possibility to export in principle
turns the whole world into a market. The
western countries have a much stronger
market position compared to the Third
This position is consolidated by the WTO-related
trade negotiations. There, trade restrictions
are continuously reduced on ethical grounds.
In the recent past, the Netherlands
have had a negative influence on animal
welfare in its own as well as other
countries because of the scale of factory
farming and the export of these products
(70%) and this way of farm management.
Living animals are transported to far
away countries, sometimes suffering
from extreme neglect.
- The low price of animal products
in combination with too large a number
All desired changes will result in a higher
price for animal products. In principle,
livestock farmers do not object to higher
prices, but hardly any one of them is
prepared to stop producing him/herself
or to make animal-friendly investments
as long as marketing possibilities are
still uncertain. A lot of money can still
be made in an arguable manner, while government
control lags behind.
- Many years of consumer indoctrination.
In Holland, people have grown up with
the idea that animal products are healthy
and necessary. They are also proud of
their country's high production level,
but without realizing that this goes at
of animal welfare. Giving these wrongs
some serious thought would lead to some
unpleasant conclusions in the short term:
one has let oneself be misled for years
in a row; one should change one's eating
and purchasing behavior, and it will also
cost more money. The consumer is still,
insufficiently convinced whether this
will bring enough benefits.
- Protest against factory farming
depends on volunteers.
The number of paid campaigners is low
(about ten against tens of thousands working
on the promotion of animal products).
Furthermore, the animal rights movement
is not always fully operative or operates
- Inconsistent government policies.
The government does not tax the stock
farmer with the disadvantages of his/her
farm management but instead has the taxpayer
pay for smoothing over the harmful consequences
for, for instance, the environment, the
price of clean water, damage to the countryside,
- Persistent faith in technological
solutions and economic growth.
After the Second World War, technology
and the economy have brought our society
so many benefits that one has somehow
come to think that its disadvantages such
as damage to the environment and reduced
animal welfare have to be solved by even
more technological and economic development
- Lack of ethical awareness within
Because of financing from trade and industry,
it chooses short-term goals instead of
solving problems in the long term. Medication
is tested on animals, and alternative
methods are insufficiently looked for;
animals are used for organ transplants;
dairy products are "functionally
enriched" by adding nutrients, whereas
enriching vegetable food and making it
more attractive and tasty would solve
a lot more problems.
- The stock farmer's mentality.
Many stock farmers do not think their
animals have that bad a life, after all,
they take good care of them. The animals
are fed on time in order to have them
ready for slaughter as soon as possible.
These farmers do not realize anymore that
they are not treating their animals properly.
A change in mentality is not very likely.
Motivating these farmers on economic grounds,
thus slightly yet clearly pressing them
towards more responsible farm management,
will be more effective.
- Practically everyone is responsible
for the present situation in some way
and to some extent: producers, government
and consumers all have an interest
in not addressing each other about
the consequences for animal welfare in
factory farming. The animals' interests
are not financially profitable. The animals
are as it were born to lose.