Livestock policies should reflect diverse views, study finds
Research reveals how an influence of worldviews and values shape stakeholders’ perspectives towards developing a more sustainable livestock sector.
Insights from a study of the perspectives of people working in the livestock sector could play a key role in informing policy changes towards greater sustainability in the sector.
Researchers set out to investigate the relationship between industry representatives’ environment worldviews, values, demographics and their perspectives on the future of livestock systems.
Findings reveal a significant correlation between environmental views and stakeholders’ expectations on the future of the livestock sector.
The livestock sector is facing a number of pressing sustainability and health challenges, such as climate change, the over-consumption of red and processed meat, and diseases that spread from animals to people. Researchers highlight the need to address political and market barriers, as well as conflicting worldviews and values, which are preventing the sector from becoming more sustainable.
The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems research team carried out surveys and interviews with over 300 livestock representatives, including farmers, agricultural researchers and veterinary staff across the UK and 30 other countries.
Participants who held pro-environmental views and values were more inclined towards behaviour-oriented solutions and approaches that promote sustainable consumption and production practices and mitigate the environmental impact of livestock production.
On the other hand, participants with lower pro-environmental inclinations and higher technology-centred values leaned towards technological solutions, believing that improving production efficiency through technology would address the sector's challenges.
Demographic variations were also found to influence perspectives within the livestock sector, underscoring the importance of recognising cultural values and considering diverse voices and perspectives when formulating sustainable solutions.
The research team concludes that a holistic approach, incorporating the different perspectives within the sector, is crucial for developing sustainable solutions to overcome the existing barriers and promote a more sustainable livestock industry.
The findings of this research could serve as a valuable resource for policymakers, industry stakeholders, and researchers striving to create a more sustainable future for livestock systems.
This study was published in Agriculture and Human Values.
Our research highlights the critical need to recognise the diversity of perspectives to ensure all voices are heard in the debate surrounding the future of livestock systems. By considering a wide range of values, we can foster more equitable decision-making processes and contribute to the development of sustainable livestock futures. While transforming the livestock sector presents significant challenges, history has shown that values can change dramatically, as seen in changing attitudes towards other social and environmental issues. This gives us hope that we can transform the livestock sector to be more sustainable.