Is there a difference?

Animal welfare and animal rights – most producers have their own opinions about these terms. But do they know the difference between them? 

Animal welfare is the state an animal is in given the condition in which it lives. Welfare groups ensure the well-beings of animals and their environment, nutrition, care, handling and disease prevention processes. 

Meanwhile, animal right activists believe that animals and humans should have the same rights as one another.

“A common misconception is that animal rightists and animal welfarists are the same groups of people, but they are not,” Shawna Weimer, assistant professor and director of the Center for Food Animal Well-Being  said. “Animal rights groups believe animals should have the same rights as humans and do not want animals to be subjected to any human use, such as food, clothing, testing, entertainment.

“Animal welfarists believe that animals raised for humane use should be humanely cared for and use scientific evidence as justification,” 

Weimer said the pros for an animal right group is that humans have the right to belong to an advocacy group.

The argument of animal testing has been debated within animal right groups. One argument being that the funds reserved to test animals could be used to help food programs. In the U.S., more than $16 billion is spent annually on animal testing,, which could create 40 billion extra meals.

Farmers who deal with animal agriculture are aware of possible plans that activists can take part in. One is the undercover video campaign. This campaign is for an activist to act as an employee for the purpose of capturing photos and videos on a farm. These photos and videos can then be used against the business and bring negative publicity.

In the agricultural industry, there have been cases where animal right groups have benefited some, while for others not.

“Animal rights groups may not affect some who work in the industry,” Weimer said. “Usually, the industry response to animal rights groups involves a handful of people.”

When it comes to laws of animal activists, there have been several passed in different states.

“Some U.S. states have ag-gag laws that prevent the recording of video at industrial farming facilities, and some do not,” Weimer said.

In 1966, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was signed into law. Fore more information, go to


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