A conceptual approach for a quantitative economic analysis of farmers’ decision-making regarding animal welfare

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Decisions related to animal welfare (AW) standards depend on farmer’s multiple goals and values and are constrained by a wide range of external and internal forces. The aim of this paper is twofold, i.e., (1) to develop a theoretical framework for farmers’ AW decisions that incorporates farmers’ goals, use and non-use values and (2) to present an approach to empirically implement the theoretical framework. The farmer as a head of the farm household makes choices regarding production to maximize the utility of the household. The overall utility of the farmer is determined by his multiple objectives. For the analysis of multi-objective problems, the multiple criteria decision-making paradigm provides an appropriate theoretical framework. However, theories from the field of social-psychology are needed to facilitate the identification of all relevant aspects in the decision making (i.e., factors that explain behavior). The practical use of the conceptual framework is demonstrated using a simple numerical application of a multi-objective programming model. Two workshops were devoted to examining the scientific consistency and the practical usefulness of the approach. Implementing this approach will increase knowledge of the main factors and barriers that determine farmers’ decisions with regard to AW standards. This knowledge is relevant during the development of new AW concepts that aims to supply products that comply with above-legal AW standards for middle-market segments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-308
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • willingness-to-pay
  • multiattribute utility-theory
  • conjoint-analysis
  • production systems
  • planned behavior
  • attitudes
  • values
  • objectives
  • management
  • goals

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