Codes, trust and tackling challenges head-on
Date posted: March 23, 2013
Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals are one of
the hot topics at LCC. What's the approach, in a nutshell?
It's about teamwork and keeping Canada competitive, says Jackie Wepruk,
Manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).
"The Codes" are guidelines designed to support responsible
livestock welfare practices and keep everyone involved in livestock care and
handling on the same page. They also provide a clear reference livestock
industries can point to in addressing questions and rising expectations from
consumers, the marketplace and society in general, both domestically and
Four keys to success
1. Round-table process fosters collaboration. "We're trying
to ensure there's a more collaborative approach where all of the relevant
stakeholders are involved in the decision making," says Wepruk. "We
want to work to breakdown this cognitive dissonance on all sides. Everyone has
their own view on animal welfare and. Our ultimate goal is yes we're making
progress on animal welfare but we're also maintaining the viability of Canadian
2. Anchoring Canada's success. The Codes are really the foundation of
our Canadian animal welfare system.," says Wepruk. "They really do
serve as our national understanding of what animal care requirements are and
what recommended practices should be.
3. Strong science, but practical too. "It's really important the Codes
are scientifically informed and that we have a strong scientific basis for what
we're saying," says Wepruk. "But science can't tell us the whole
picture. Science can tell us what is but it can't tell us what ought to be. At
the same time we need to ensure that our Codes and what we're doing on farm
animal welfare is practical. Because ultimately if farmers and those involved
in animal agriculture can't implement the Codes, then there's not much point in
4. Meeting society expectations. The Code also need to reflect societal
expectations for responsible animal care, says Wepruk. "Societal views
change and we are seeing that change. Views are not homogenous on farm animal
welfare so this can be a tough one to get at. We're not talking about the
single interest group that is picketing a company. We need to focus on the
general consumer and keeping a strong relationship."
license' and economics take focus at Livestock Care Conference
Posted: March 26, 2013
There's no question farm animal welfare is an issue putting livestock
industries in the spotlight and driving new expectations. But what are the best
pathways to bolster consumer trust while balancing industry economics and
That was the crux of the discussion and debate at the 2013 Livestock
Care Conference, where a range of farm animal care experts, industry leaders,
producers, students and other stakeholders took stock of the state of the
welfare issue, industry progress and how to capture the opportunities ahead.
The conference was hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC), which represents
the major livestock producer organizations in the province, along with the
Alberta Veterinary Medical Association.
"In a market system, the real driver of change is through the
consumer," says Dr. James Reynolds of the College of Veterinary Medicine,
Western University in Ponoma, California. "Livestock industries have a
license to produce. Society gives the license and it comes with conditions. The
challenge is to continually foster understanding and strengthen that
Livestock producers and their industries represent the front line of
responsible livestock welfare and animal husbandry practices. Through efforts
such as AFAC and similar-targeted efforts in other jurisdictions, they have
emerged as leaders in promoting awareness, communication, research, guidelines
and innovation on farm animal care.
Today there are increasingly higher expectations for transparency - not
only communicating and explaining but also increasingly 'proving' best
practices and approaches, says Reynolds. In Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere
there has been a whirlwind of activity and progress over many years now
reaching a high point.
The heavyweights of the global food industry are ramping-up their focus
and programs related to animal welfare. "It's absolutely a top
priority," says Dr. Lily Edwards-Callaway, Animal Welfare Specialist with
JBS, the world's largest animal protein company and largest processor of beef.
"We strongly believe we are stewards of our animals. It's our
responsibility and we take it seriously." She oversees the animal welfare
programs for cattle, pigs and lambs at JBS USA. Each of the company's
processing plants in Canada and the U.S. now has a certified animal handling
auditor and runs three different types of auditing systems.
In Canada, a key focus of activity in recent years has been the
development of updated Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm
animals - a process coordinated through the National Farm Animal Care Council
(NFACC). "The Codes" are guidelines designed to support responsible
livestock welfare practices and keep everyone involved in livestock care and
handling on the same page, says Jackie Wepruk, Manager of NFACC. They also
provide a clear reference livestock industries can point to in addressing
questions and rising expectations from consumers, the marketplace and society
Individual commodity and producer organizations are helping drive a
range of complementary, species-specific programs. Several case study examples
were highlighted at the conference through presentations by Mike Slomp,
Industry and Member Services Manager of Alberta Milk; Trevor Prout, Producer
Programs Manager of Alberta Chicken Producers; and Catherine Scovil, Executive
Director of the Canadian Pork Council.
At a broader international level, one of the big drivers is the World Organisation
for Animal Health (OIE), the major intergovernmental global organization
responsible for improving animal health worldwide, with a total of 178 member
countries including Canada. While OIE has traditionally focused on animal
health, in recent years it has expanded the definition of this mandate to
include a stronger focus on livestock welfare. This has included leading the
development of consensus-based international standards for livestock welfare
approaches, through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
The Livestock Care Conference main agenda also featured an open-format
"bear pit" session on the tough issues and buzz topics in farm animal
care today, moderated by Dr. Clover Bench of the University of Alberta. The
discussion was punctuated by strong viewpoints, frank talk and calls to action,
along with reminders of the strength in working together and thinking bold
about future potential. Economic implications and practical measures were a key
"Continuing to share knowledge and build coordinated approaches is
one of the clear priorities ahead," says Heini Hehli, a Rimbey-area dairy
producer and chair of AFAC. "We all have the same interest in providing
leadership in farm animal care, among all areas of livestock production."
A range of reports and resources out of the
Livestock Care Conference are available for industry and media use, including
special editions of the NewStream
Farm Animal Care e-newsletter. Visit www.afac.ab.ca/lcc
for LCC details and links and www.meristem.com for NewStream content and sign-up.
is part of the Growing Forward 2 suite of risk management programs that
AgriInsurance - known as crop insurance.
AgriInvest - a producer-managed savings
account where government matches eligible producer contributions of up to
AgriRecovery - assistance that covers
extraordinary expenses following a disaster.
enrolment deadline for AgriStability is April 30th.
are some changes to the new AgriStability program under the Growing Forward 2
framework that horse producers should be aware of. Read AFSC's press release to learn about the changes
and how they may impact you.
Manure Management Regulations
for Rabbit Owners
Manure management requirements for
all Alberta agricultural operations, including rabbit owners, are outlined in
the Standards and Administration Regulation of the Agricultural Operation
Practices Act (AOPA). However, new or expanding horse operations which exceed
specified animal numbers may also need a permit from the Natural Resources
Conservation Board (NRCB).
Do you need a permit?
If your facility existed prior to January 1, 2002, was above threshold numbers
and has not expanded or modified any facilities, it is considered to have been
deemed a permit, based on the capacity of the operation at the time. No action
is necessary by the operator. However, new and expanding operations that exceed
threshold animal numbers and are not an equestrian stable, auction market, race
track, or exhibition ground, will need a permit under AOPA.
Keep reading this resource from
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.
CFA - a collaborative approach to agriculture
By Ron Bonnett, CFA President & Cow/Calf Operator
Over the years, and especially in the past few months, we have heard reports
in the news and by those outside of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture
(CFA) membership that accuse the CFA of being a supply-managed organization.
Others argue we place too much emphasis on trade, while some question if our
focus is too central Canada, western grain or remote rural-centric.
To those accusations of who we are - I proudly answer an emphatic 'YES' - to
all of the above. CFA is an organization that is supportive and proud of
supply management and all orderly marketing tools, and the role they play in
securing producer returns. CFA is an organization focused on exports - proud
of the high quality products Canada sells internationally through its
grains, oilseeds, sugar beets, horticulture and livestock members - at the
CFA table directly or within each of our provincial general farm
organizations. And yes, CFA is focused on the issues of central Canada,
western Canada, eastern Canada and the remote areas in between.
CFA is Canada's largest national general farm organization. As such, we
appreciate that not every issue will impact everyone at CFA directly or
equally. But in 1935, the CFA was formed to provide a strong, collective
voice for farmers - to work for the betterment of all farmers - to improve
the socio-economic situation of all farmers. And some 78 years later, that
objective has not changed. It is an objective that is obtained through a
variety of initiatives - initiatives on a broad spectrum of files that have
a direct impact to the bottom line of our members and every Canadian farmer.
These include work not just on trade - which is key - but on other areas
that impact farmers directly, like the owner use pesticide program, species
at risk, business risk management tools, crop insurance, taxation issues,
water use, climate change, regulatory reform, food safety and farm safety to
name but a few.
Our objective is to ensure the sector as a whole is profitable and viable
not just today but for the long-term, and that we at CFA strive to make that
happen not on the backs or expense of others in the industry, but
collectively and by working in partnership along the entire food supply
chain. We do it by working with not only Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,
but with Health Canada, Environment Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs
and International Trade, Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Industry Canada
- and our provincial members help to strengthen that approach by working in
collaboration with their respective provincial ministries to bring a common
vision and hopefully approach to agriculture in this country.
So, if working for the betterment of the entire agri-food sector is a fault
- if understanding the complex inter-relationships between commodities,
sectors and regions is wrong - then we are guilty and happily so - but at
CFA, we will not be convinced that alone you can be stronger than working
21 rue Florence St., Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 0W6 · Tel. 613-236-3633 ·
Fax/Téléc. 613-236-5749 · www.cfa-fca.ca