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Reconsidering the political economy of farm animal welfare: An anatomy of market failure

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  • Harvey, David
  • Hubbard, Carmen

Abstract

Animal welfare is often cited as a classic public good, which implies market failure and, thus, that government intervention is required. However, the current literature does not provide an accessible account of how governed markets are supposed to cope with the issues of animal welfare. This paper seeks to fill this gap by re-considering the political economy of animal welfare. Conceptual analysis shows that the major cause of market failure in the case of farm animal welfare is a problem of consumption externalities. It is the specific regulation of animal welfare conditions which is a public good (or bad). Two important conclusions follow from this analysis, which are largely unexplored in the literature on animal welfare. First, measurement of potential market failure, through identifying actual willingness to pay (WTP) for animal welfare friendly products, is potentially misleading. The difference between citizen votes and consumer WTP for animal welfare is not prima facie evidence for either market failure or a gap in the market. Second, conventional arguments in favour of subsidies and assistance to producers for better animal welfare are misconceived and potentially counterproductive. A more rational policy is to subsidise the consumption of animal welfare friendly products.

Suggested Citation

  • Harvey, David & Hubbard, Carmen, 2013. "Reconsidering the political economy of farm animal welfare: An anatomy of market failure," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 105-114.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:38:y:2013:i:c:p:105-114
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.11.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alphonce, Roselyne & Alfnes, Frode & Sharma, Amit, 2014. "Consumer vs. citizen willingness to pay for restaurant food safety," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(P1), pages 160-166.
    2. Spiller, Achim & von Meyer-Höfer, Marie & Sonntag, Winnie, 2016. "Gibt es eine Zukunft für die moderne konventionelle Tierhaltung in Nordwesteuropa?," Department of Agricultural and Rural Development (DARE) Discussion Papers 260780, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development (DARE).
    3. Spiller, Achim & von Meyer-Höfer, Marie & Sonntag, Winnie, 2016. "Gibt es eine Zukunft für die moderne konventionelle Tierhaltung in Nordwesteuropa?," DARE Discussion Papers 1608, Georg-August University of Göttingen, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development (DARE).
    4. repec:eee:transa:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:333-349 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Lijia Shi & Lisa A. House & Zhifeng Gao, 2013. "Impact of Purchase Intentions on Full and Partial Bids in BDM Auctions: Willingness-to-pay for Organic and Local Blueberries," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 707-718, September.
    6. Clark, Beth & Stewart, Gavin B. & Panzone, Luca A. & Kyriazakis, Ilias & Frewer, Lynn J., 2017. "Citizens, consumers and farm animal welfare: A meta-analysis of willingness-to-pay studies," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 112-127.
    7. Hartmann, Monika & Simons, Johannes, 2015. "The Farm Animal Welfare - Dilemma: Can concerted Action of the Value Chain be a solution?," 148th Seminar, November 30-December 1, 2015, The Hague, The Netherlands 229280, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Natalia Brzezina & Birgit Kopainsky & Erik Mathijs, 2016. "Can Organic Farming Reduce Vulnerabilities and Enhance the Resilience of the European Food System? A Critical Assessment Using System Dynamics Structural Thinking Tools," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-32, September.
    9. Sophie de Graaf & Filiep Vanhonacker & Ellen J. Van Loo & Jo Bijttebier & Ludwig Lauwers & Frank A. M. Tuyttens & Wim Verbeke, 2016. "Market Opportunities for Animal-Friendly Milk in Different Consumer Segments," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(12), pages 1-17, December.
    10. Adelina Gschwandtner, 2014. "The Organic Food Premium: A Canterbury Tale," Studies in Economics 1411, School of Economics, University of Kent.

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