Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
13 Achieving Social Sustainability
in Animal Agriculture: Challenges and
Opportunities to Reconcile Multiple
Sustainability Goals
M.T. Niles*
Department of Environmental Science and Policy,
University of California, Davis, California, USA
offers new challenges and opportunities to the
agricultural industry, farmers, ranchers, farm
and ranch workers, policy makers and even the
public themselves. Consumer demand for more
sustainable animal products is also coupled
with concerns about food security, labour and
social living standards, and economic viability
for farmers and ranchers. Agricultural policies
are changing to reflect new standards and
niche markets, and agricultural processors,
farmers and ranchers are adapting to these
new regulations. This chapter will review the
many aspects of social sustainability in animal
agriculture and discuss the recent challenges
and opportunities for sustainability in animal
agriculture. The chapter will begin by describ-
ing the origins of social sustainability followed
by a discussion of social sustainability in animal
agriculture. Many aspects of social sustainability
will be considered from social-environmental
aspects including environmental justice to socio-
economic considerations such as fair wages.
Finally, the chapter will conclude by considering
how multiple sustainability goals can be recon-
ciled and achieved and how policies and con-
sumer demands can influence this process.
According to the Consumer Reports 'Greener
Choices' eco-label database, there are 56 eco-
labels for beef. These labels range from labels for
organic certification to animal welfare labels
(i.e. humanely raised, free range, grass-fed) to
health-based claims including 'no additives'
and 'hormone-free'. The website also details
48 eco-labels for dairy, 46 for eggs, 50 for lamb,
49 for pork and 54 for poultry (Consumers
Union, 2011). While many of these labels may
have overlap among different categories, the
dozens of labels now available for products
highlights that the public has increasing con-
cerns and desires when they purchase animal
products. At the same time, many of these labels
offer no substantial means to verify their claims
by a third party certifier, leaving consumers
increasingly confused about legitimate sus-
tainability claims, and farmers and ranchers
increasingly pressured to disclose their farming
and management practices.
This trend towards sustainable agriculture
and green products as well as a growing interest
from consumers about the origins of their food
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