Promoting good animal welfare is enshrined in law, a key objective of the Norwegian livestock industry, and an important public justification for providing economic support to farmers.
Yet despite an extensive regulatory and legal framework, firm commitments to good animal welfare from key stakeholders, and routine on-farm assessments conducted by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA), persistent welfare issues remain in virtually all types of animal production.
Research into understanding why farmers are not fully compliant with welfare regulations has tended to focus on socio-psychological factors such as attitudes and values and how they determine discrete compliance outcomes.
WELFARM, on the other hand, is part of a growing body of research that views animal welfare outcomes not as the result of farmers’ attitudes towards discrete behaviours, but as part of the “farm culture” – a complex interaction between the animal, human and material parts of the farm that can lead to declining or improving animal welfare situations. Understanding these cultures, it is argued, can help us resolve non-compliance issues by better reflecting Improving animal welfare regulatory compliance in dairy and pig farming the complex environment from which welfare outcomes emerge.
The project will involve developing an in-depth (ethnographic) understanding of farm welfare cultures, establishing a typology of farmers based on risk of non-compliance within the farm culture, identifying best-practice communication for responding to non-compliance (motivating farmers to comply), and developing an indicator toolkit to assist welfare administrators from the NFSA to identify at risk farmers and farm cultures.
The overall impact of the project will be to reduce levels of non-compliance in Norwegian agriculture as well as generating new scientific knowledge on farm welfare cultures that can be used to develop better approaches to compliance outside of Norway.