According to research commissioned by fast-food giant McDonald’s, almost half of UK farmers are prioritising animal welfare over other investments. Retailers and consumers are increasingly demanding high-welfare food and becoming more interested about where their food comes from and the farming practices used to produce it.
The survey, carried out by the National Farm Research Unit, analysed a cross-section of 500 pork, beef and poultry farmers across the UK. Their findings included:
- Animal welfare was the single biggest focus of investment for farmers surveyed
- 40% of farmers interviewed said they would be investing in welfare in 2018
- 88% of those surveyed were already accredited by a farm assurance scheme
Almost 90% of farmers surveyed said they believed high welfare standards were vital to making UK farming globally competitive. Almost 60% claimed there has been increased and sustained demand for higher welfare products over the past 5 years from retailers and food companies as well as consumers.
Challenges of delivering higher welfare
70% of those interviewed mentioned high production costs as an obstacle to delivering higher welfare standards. In recognition of this, McDonalds have launched a scheme for dairy farmers which will award grants of up to £10,000 each to fund innovation in animal welfare on their farms.
The scheme has been developed in partnership with Arla Foods and is open to all Arla milk producers. Those wishing to apply for funding should visit the Arla website for more information.