As a lover of animal (personal top 3: elephants, cats, and dogs) I wish all beasts a happy and merry co-existence with us humans. What I don’t like? Bureaucratic “helpful” ideas that have some growing problems. Idealism doesn’t make your ideas great.
The Green Party of Norway’s representative put forth a suggestion in parliament.
The suggestion in short (translation is mine):
“We ask that the administration work towards establishing a national animal welfare brand, with clear criteria for quality, that can be used on Norwegian agricultural products that are produced with consciousness for the well-being of animals”.
Now, to me, this is an idea that looks ok on paper but is a weird way to fix a theoretical problem. I say theoretically because the proposition isn’t anchored in reality – Norway has a healthy and world-class baseline for the animals in agriculture already, so the need for the suggestion isn’t even there.
Is Norway perfect in regards to animal safety and rights? Nope. I just don’t see how the proposal is going to give any meaningful help in this regard either. Is the only incentive for the food industry to behave in a moral manner a government agent inspecting their grounds, just to get a good grading?
The industry has an incentive to take care of their animals and give them a good environment to live in or the backlash is going to be massive – The market will and has, punished bad behavior. The consumer is obligated to put pressure on the producers and ask for better information on what we put on the dinner table.
“But we need a third party to confirm that the companies are in fact doing what they promise”
It’s easy to reach for the simplistic solution of just letting someone else do that for you through government enforcement – Out of sight, out of mind, right? That is not a great philosophy to go through life with.
The third party could be anyone in the massive logistical chain that the food market is. Wouldn’t your local store be interested in giving you cruelty-free eggs? Wouldn’t it be a great marketing hit-piece for your butcher? The pride of your local farm? A great slogan for the transporter company?
Consumer-owned or funded interest groups is the ideal way to have that third party in my mind. Their whole business is based around that you care about animals and their service is to provide you with proof that your purchase is good. This path offers many great things that just another faceless government branch cant provide as easily:
1. Their business depends on your trust and you can stop your support at any time they break your trust.
Are they doing something you don’t agree with? You can end your relationship today.
Compare this to the complicated process of cutting your support for a specific part of government you don’t agree with. I’d wager it’s almost impossible.
2. Giving you status reports and what’s in the now in a clear way is in their interest to keep you as a subscriber to their service.
Compare this to trying to find anything relevant your authorities are doing. You have to actively seek out information and more often than not, go through the thick mud of bureaucracy to get there.
3. It will cost you less, both short term and long term.
Private companies with operational costs, a finite budget, and interest in the future will cost you less via direct funding, then via the long path and many hands, your money needs to take in a state system.
Long live the Animals and long live the Free Market solutions.