Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 3, Edition 7

'Care' crosses over

September 24, 2015

By: Brad Brinkworth

Welcome to the new normal. What does it mean for producers?

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall struck into the emotion around recent food industry marketing shifts with a simple tweet: "@AWCanada always had great burgers. Too bad they started using non-Canadian beef."

This kick-started a small Twitter battle that had everyone from McDonald's Canada to Spring Creek Ranch, to the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) John Masswohl chiming in, especially when A&W danced around its inability to say its burgers are 100 percent Canadian.

While Masswohl held A&Ws feet to the fire, to answer the question directly, Spring Creek noted that it supplies A&W and that getting more suppliers on board is a simple challenge of supply and demand.

McDonald's couldn't resist capitalizing, suggesting to the Premier: "While you wait, why not grab a Big Mac? 100% Cdn beef!"

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Four to watch

September 24, 2015

'Seismic summer' of developments shifts the landscape on sustainability issues

1. U.S. Veterinary Health Directorate issued. After much heated debate from all corners the "final rule" on this landmark shift was issued and it's now official that livestock producers, veterinarians and feed providers must come into compliance by December 2016. "Antibiotics aren't going away, but on farm use will change," says Jennifer Koeman, DVM, director of producer and public health for the Pork Checkoff in the U.S. "Producers should sit down with their veterinarians to discuss how to apply VFDs and other herd-health strategies."

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What beef producers are asking about VBP+

September 24, 2015

It's their program and they are curious about its next generation

There will be big changes in Canada's Verified Beef Production (VBP) program this coming year.

Designed originally as the national on-farm food safety program for beef it has slowly and steadily gained respect through industry channels. Today, it is about to graduate into a new era called VBP+ adding new modules for biosecurity, animal care and environmental stewardship.

That's a big change. How exactly will this be done? What will it mean for producers on the program and their industry?

The simple answer is "It's goal is simple but the background work is complex," says Manitoba cattle producer, Betty Green. As the Manitoba provincial VBP coordinator and part of the VBP+ development team she has sat in on many of the meetings and listened to the chatter in the hallways.

"It's complex because there are a lot of parts and players to be brought together, but simple because the goal will be a practical, flexible plan that works well in the field.

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Rubber hits the road on new Code

September 24, 2015

Draft Code of Practice for Chickens, Turkeys and Breeders set for public comment period

Hot on the heels of a broad swath of animal care developments comes fresh news that an updated Code of Practice for Canadian poultry has entered the stretch drive toward finalization.

A new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Chickens, Turkeys and Breeders is about to enter the public comment period phase - anticipated to start on Oct. 5 and close Dec. 4 2015. This is a key final stage in the Code development process coordinated by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). After public comments are received during this period they will be reviewed before the draft Code is finalized and officially released, likely in spring 2016.

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September 24, 2015

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

Injection of new dollars for farm animal care

While past weeks have been jammed with major animal care announcements particularly from the corporate sector, some important new pathways for industry-driven progress have also been solidified among Canada's farm animal care organizations.

A leading example is the announcement of new federal government funding of over $268,000 to Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC), to help ensure that cattle arriving at auctions and abattoirs are in good health and meet the standards required for processing.

"The development of a comprehensive report to improve strategies for the management of current and potential animal care related issues is seen as a priority for the beef sector," said a release from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). The investment is being made through AAFC's AgriMarketing Program, Assurance Systems.

"Alberta Farm Animal Care is grateful for the support provided through this program," says Dr. Angela Greter, Executive Director of AFAC. "This project is focused on determining where we are at with our cattle transport protocols, identifying risk factors that may affect animals during transport, and communicating effectively with stakeholders across the cattle value chain. This funding will help us to be proactive in ensuring optimal health and welfare for cattle throughout their lives."

The funding injection from the federal level is one of several recent examples that animal care continues to be a front burner priority for Canada's agricultural sector. The language used in the announcement is an interesting reflection of where the issue fits and what's driving the recent push.

"Our Government is taking a full "gate-to-plate" approach to animal welfare to respond to consumer concerns, and open up new marketing opportunities for producers and the whole value chain," says John Barlow, Member of Parliament for Macleod.

Yet another signal that this issue is become less about challenges and more about opportunity. Since 2009, the Government of Canada has invested over $5 million to update existing and develop new codes of practice, complete the on-farm animal care assessment model and promote Canada's approach to farm animal care. Growing Forward just completed accepting applications for an additional new wave of funding under the Livestock Welfare Program.




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'Care' crosses over

Four to watch

What beef producers are asking about VBP+

Rubber hits the road on new Code

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