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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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Animals 2020, 10(4), 619; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040619
Received: 26 February 2020 / Revised: 30 March 2020 / Accepted: 31 March 2020 / Published: 3 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Public Policy, Politics and Law)
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.
Public perception of livestock industries and consumer trust in farmers can affect consumer behaviour and impact on social license to farm. Coincidental with a large random telephone survey of Australian public attitudes and behaviour towards the red meat industry, a media campaign exposing animal cruelty in live export of sheep by sea, occurred. Data collected from the nationwide survey of the public attitudes immediately before (n = 278 respondents) and after (n = 224 respondents) this media campaign was utilised in the present study to examine the effects of the media campaign on the public. In general, respondents’ attitudes towards the red meat industry were positive. Independent t-tests revealed no significant differences between those respondents that completed the survey before or after the 60 Minutes programme in their concern for sheep or beef cattle welfare, 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 did respondents who completed the survey after the media campaign. More respondents after the 60 Minutes programme cited social and internet media as a source of information. Therefore, despite the wide media coverage associated with the 60 Minutes programme, these results indicate little effect on the public’s attitudes towards farm animal welfare and the red meat industry. The significant impacts of the programme were reflected in increased community discussion, increased social media activity and an increase in the perceived importance of conditions aboard boats used for live sheep transport. View Full-Text
Keywords: public attitudes; behaviour; media, live export, animal welfare, red meat industry public attitudes; behaviour; media, live export, animal welfare, red meat industry
MDPI and ACS Style

Rice, M.; Hemsworth, L.M.; Hemsworth, P.H.; Coleman, G.J. The Impact of a Negative Media Event on Public Attitudes Towards Animal Welfare in the Red Meat Industry. Animals 2020, 10, 619.

AMA Style

Rice M, Hemsworth LM, Hemsworth PH, Coleman GJ. The Impact of a Negative Media Event on Public Attitudes Towards Animal Welfare in the Red Meat Industry. Animals. 2020; 10(4):619.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rice, Maxine; Hemsworth, Lauren M.; Hemsworth, Paul H.; Coleman, Grahame J. 2020. "The Impact of a Negative Media Event on Public Attitudes Towards Animal Welfare in the Red Meat Industry" Animals 10, no. 4: 619.

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Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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