Reconfiguring farmed animal health and welfare: exploring and transcending borders between spaces, times, species and knowledges

This session will explore emerging discourses and practices associated with persistent health and welfare issues affecting farmed animals. The session is interested in examining the constitution and effects of sets of material and conceptual borders within which farmed animal health and welfare is understood and enacted. Farmed animal health and welfare are priority areas of the UK’s post-Brexit Agriculture Bill, which includes a ‘Health and Welfare Pathway’ intended to drive improvements to on-farm standards. Animal health and welfare is represented in this policy environment as one of a number of ‘public goods’, implying that farmers should become eligible for payments for improving the health and welfare of the animals they are responsible for. More widely, concerns about the health and welfare of farmed animals, and how to address specific health issues and welfare anxieties, have increased amongst farmers, those who advise them (including vets), and the public. There is awareness amongst these groups that some of these issues are persistent, are associated with specific farming systems, and are complex. This session aims to explore the dimensions of that persistence, specificity and complexity, focusing on how ‘health’ and ‘welfare’ in relation to farmed animals are enacted, problematised and responded to in different contexts. In this session we want to address these problems from a number of perspectives, including those associated with considerations of the ‘more-than-human’ relationships in agriculture, on-farm practices addressing health and welfare, the production of different kinds of expertise (such as the expertise of farmers and vets), discourses and practices of ‘biosecurity’, and the knowledges and practices of other actors in food systems, including consumers. In addressing these issues we identify borders between species, social groups, spaces and times as being important to conceptualising and responding to farm animal health and welfare issues.

This will be an online session. We welcome traditional paper formats as well as other types of contribution. The session will include the presentation and discussion of a short film created by one of the Artists in Residence attached to the Wellcome Trust-funded FIELD (Farm-level Interdisciplinary Approaches to Endemic Livestock Disease) project.

This will be an online session. We welcome traditional paper formats as well as other types of contribution. The session will include the presentation and discussion of a short film created by one of the Artists in Residence attached to the Wellcome Trust-funded FIELD (Farm-level Interdisciplinary Approaches to Endemic Livestock Disease) project.

Papers in this session could address (but are not limited to) the following themes:

• The role of borders on and between farms and other places and spaces in food systems in the playing out of specific health and welfare issues across multiple geographical scales.
• The effects of how connections between the past, present and future of specific health and welfare issues are understood across different timescales and temporalities.
• The implications for farmed animal health and welfare of the navigation of borders between species in agricultural more-than-human relationships.
• The persistence and/or collapse of borders between different actors in food systems, such as farmers and the public, in relation to farmed animal health and welfare.
• The negotiation and management of borders at different scales, for example between individual farms or between national administrations, in relation to the management of health and welfare issues.
• The implications of new agricultural technologies for conceptualisations of and interventions in farmed animal health and welfare.
• The value of border-crossing, interdisciplinary research to approaching farm animal health and welfare.

Please e-mail paper proposals (title, author affiliation, and a 250 word abstract) to Lewis Holloway (l.holloway@hull.ac.uk), Niamh Mahon (n.mahon@hull.ac.uk), Amy Proctor (amy.proctor@newcastle.ac.uk) and Beth Clark (beth.clark@newcastle.ac.uk ) by 6th February 2021.

Conveners

Lewis Holloway (University of Hull)
Niamh Mahon (University of Hull)
Amy Proctor (Newcastle University)
Beth Clark (Newcastle University)