Consumer action is leading to increasing debate over on-farm activities in New Zealand. Both animal welfare activists and government organizations frequently refer to the importance of welfare standards in order to secure overseas markets, as well as in response to local concerns. This article explores rural and urban people’s views of welfare of animals kept on farms for commercial purposes in response to a 2008 survey commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It compares and contrasts these recent findings with those of an earlier (1994) survey, to demonstrate how understanding of—and the impetus for—changing farm practices have developed. The article also looks at the global context of the animal welfare issue and discusses how overseas trends impact the New Zealand situation. The view that animal welfare is purely about physical well-being is among those challenged at home and abroad, and farmers are now forced to defend and amend industry standards.
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