MOO IF YOU LIKE THIS POLL….Gallup titles this batch of polling data, “Public Lukewarm on Animal Rights,” but the big news is that Americans are much more concerned with the welfare of farm animals than I expected.

Solid majorities oppose bans on hunting and animal testing, but a 62-35 majority of Americans supports “Passing strict laws concerning the treatment of farm animals.” This is probably the most important thing to do as far as animal welfare is concerned. Unlike hunted animals, animals in contemporary factory farms live in miserable conditions throughout their lives. For an unusually amusing introduction to the situation and all its negative consequences, enter the Meatrix. I think the chicken with the boobs near the end is supposed to be Carrie-Anne Moss, which is kind of funny.

If we’re going to subsidize the meat industry as heavily as we do (at present, most of the subsidies are for feed grains) the least we could do is concentrate the subsidies on farmers who treat their animals in an ethical way. As it stands, a lot of farmers keep chickens in such cramped conditions that their beaks need to be chopped off to keep them from pecking each other to death, and put pigs in cages so small they can’t turn around. These practices should be banned, but there are a number of public policy tools even short of that that will prevent a lot of animal suffering.

One of the more amusing results from the poll is that 25% of respondents supported giving animals the “exact same rights as people to be free of harm and exploitation.” 55% of those respondents then said they didn’t want to ban hunting. If we take their responses at face value and multiply, this means that over 10% of Americans support the hunting of humans. Who knew?

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