More companies around the world are adjusting their farm-animal confinement policies, largely in response to U.S. voter-led initiatives and to the implementation of European Union farm-policy reforms.
Forcing chickens, pigs, or young cattle into tight cages, crates, or pens is common in the United States, Europe, and increasingly the developing world. But at a time when 73 percent of emerging human disease originates in animals, placing farm animals in constant close contact has led to bacterial resistance and other health concerns.
Growing public awareness of the challenges associated with animal confinement has led several major grocery stores, fast-food chains, and meat producers to phase out some of these practices. Among U.S. companies that have responded to consumer concern in recent years are Safeway, Burger King, and leading pork producer Smithfield Foods.
The companies are reacting to mounting legislation as...