The Impact of a Negative Media Event on Public Attitudes Towards Animal Welfare in the Red Meat Industry
Animal Welfare Science Centre, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
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Received: 26 February 2020 / Revised: 30 March 2020 / Accepted: 31 March 2020 / Published: 3 April 2020
The public’s perception of a livestock industry can affect the sustainability of the industry. We used a random telephone survey of the Australian public to examine the effects on public attitudes of an Australian media campaign exposing animal cruelty in live export of sheep by sea. We found no apparent differences between those respondents that completed the survey before or after this media campaign in their concern for sheep or beef cattle welfare, their attitudes to red meat farming, acceptability of the red meat industry or their trust in farmers in the red meat industry. However, prior to the media campaign, respondents believed sheep to be more comfortable when transported by boats than those who completed the survey after the media campaign. While the media coverage was widespread, caution is required in the interpretation of these results as the survey questionnaire did not specifically ask if the respondents had seen the media coverage. Nevertheless, the coverage appears to have had little impact on public attitudes, either because the message itself had little impact or because of lack of exposure to the message.