Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 2, Edition 3

Battle for the moral high ground

February 6, 2014

Dr. Nelson Kloosterman

Looking at animal welfare through the lens of religion is controversial and can spark strong emotion. But it is an element of the debate that some activists are using and can't be ignored.

It's a powerful cocktail: religion mixed with rhetoric and emotional appeal. It's also a reality in today's animal welfare debate, says Dr. Nelson Kloosterman, executive director and ethics consultant for Worldview Resources International.

Some animal rights activist organizations are using religion as a powerful tool to wage war against the livestock industry, he says, and producers and their industry need to recapture the moral high ground in raising livestock to ward off that threat.

Controversial tactics

Worldview Resources International is a service organization with a mission to provide resources designed to assist in understanding and applying a religious worldview to responsible living.

Kloosterman, speaking at the recent Banff Pork Seminar, says there are specific steps farm animal industries should consider to better manage this volatile part of the debate.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

New guide helps Alberta poultry producers prepare for disaster

February 6, 2014

Farm-specific plan can boost security, mitigate effects of emergency

Barns collapsing under the weight of heavy snow. Electrical power zapped by storms. Floods or water supplies threatened by drought.

Alberta poultry producers already understand the potentially devastating effects that these types of emergencies can have on their operations. But many will not have an effective disaster and business continuity plan to deal with them.

That's why Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) has supported development of the Alberta Poultry Industry Emergency Response Planning and Resource Guide for Producers. It provides poultry producers with a go-to reference of non-disease related disaster response resources available in Alberta and pertinent information from around the world.

The guide is designed as a framework, says Angela Greter, program manager with AFAC.

"It's a set of recommendations for producers to help them develop disaster response plans for their farms. There are also suggestions for how the industry can help its producers to do that."

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Six key messages from our NewStream Survey

February 6, 2014

Helping shape future editorial coverage

A few weeks back, we asked NewStream Farm Animal Care readers for their input on this information service as well as trends and developments in the world of farm animal care. Here is a snapshot of six things we learned from this effort.

  1. Readers are very engaged in farm animal care. Surveys are done with consideration. We know people are very busy that it takes time to respond and provide a considered respond. We were very pleased to have a strong response from across the spectrum including producers, industry, government and others. Readers were supportive and gave thoughtful, solid suggestions, issued real challenges and held us accountable for our descriptive at the top of every issue: "Thinking. Ideas. Developments."
  2. Farm animal care will grow in importance. As expected with this audience, farm animal care rates highly as an issue that will grow in importance to animal agriculture. What was especially valuable in terms of shaping future NewStream editorial approaches was the context readers gave in their comments.

Click here to read the full story.

LCC Spotlight: Meet the experts

February 6, 2014

Unique networking approach encourages a positive learning experience and gateway to mentoring opportunities

It's a well-worn cliché but one that's true for any industry: Students represent the future. This is certainly the case for the next generation of farm animal care progress. And that's why students are a key focus at the upcoming 2014 Livestock Care Conference in Edmonton, hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care.

A "Meet the Experts" session is designed for post-secondary students pursuing careers related to farm animal care. The session offers unique one-on-one learning and networking, with students joined by producers and other industry representatives, including veterinarians and featured speakers from the main Livestock Care Conference agenda.

As NewStream editors who have attended this session the past two years, we know it's a well-attended and popular session. The format typically starts with an ice-breaker exercise that sparks equal measures of humour and excellent discussion farm animal welfare topics. This is followed by the rotating, interactive format that works like a speed networking exercise, with students asking questions of the industry experts.

The students, with their enthusiasm and curiosity, really energize the session, which all in all is a great learning and sharing experience for everyone involved. Meet the Experts will be held March 26, the day before the main speaker agenda of the two-day conference.

The Livestock Care Conference provides an opportunity for researchers, industry, students, government and the public to address challenges and trends in animal care. Get complete details, including registration information, here.


February 6, 2014

Quick takes on key activity and what's coming, from NewStream editors

Shareholder activism: The next frontier

News that PETA is pushing SeaWorld on a plan to support whale sanctuaries is the latest example in a rising trend toward shareholder activism as a weapon in the animal welfare battleground.

It's also an example of the blowback from companies to find ways to ward off this rising threat. As a number of news outlets have reported, PETA bought shares in SeaWorld Entertainment when it went public last April, purchasing the minimum number of shares needed to attend and speak at annual meetings and to submit shareholder resolutions.

The controversial activist organization didn't waste time and recently sought to bring forward to shareholders its plan to compel SeaWorld to invest in the sanctuaries. However SeaWorld has fought back citing a procedural rule that requires shareholders to hold stock for at least a year before submitting this type of proposal.

"SeaWorld has pulled a procedural maneuver to exclude from its proxy materials a shareholder resolution from PETA" says PETA in a statement. Read the complete statement here.

According to media reports and PETA information, PETA bought shares on April 19, 2013, which is the day SeaWorld went public. SeaWorld has planned to submit its latest proxy material to the Securities and Exchange Committsion on April 17, in what PETA says is a deliberate attempt to thwart its efforts.

Add Wendy's to the list

Also marching forward as a growing trend is the number of big-name quick-service restaurant chains throwing their weight into specific demands related to how animals are handled and raised.

Wendy's International Inc. is among the latest to make waves, this week announcing a requirement to have its suppliers provide "progress reports" on how much of their pork is produced without the use of gestation stalls.

"We now require every raw material and finished product supplier to submit quarterly progress reports that reflect the percentage of stall-free pork supplied to Wendy's," reads the Wendy's announcement. "Additionally, as a result of recent announcements by two suppliers who currently make up the majority of our raw materials (pork) business, we are confident we will continue to make progress towards our goal of eliminating the use of sow gestation stalls in our supply chain by the end of 2022. We maintain our commitment of achieving gestation stall-free sourcing, and welcome the ongoing and expanded cooperation from our suppliers."




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