Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


Leading-edge conference champions Canada's progress in farm animal welfare

Posted: June 20, 2013

Supporting Canada as a leader in the increasingly high-profile area of farm animal welfare is the focus of a major national conference open to participants across the agriculture and food value chain.

The 2013 National Farm Animal Care Conference: "Achievements, Challenges and Future Directions" is slated for Oct. 9-10 in Ottawa. It features a dynamic line-up of top speakers tackling the big issues in farm animal care, along with updates and discussion on key initiatives such as Codes of Practice and the Animal Care Assessment Model. These initiatives are driving Canada's efforts to lead and innovate in the emerging new environment.

The conference is hosted by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), the lead national organization for farm animal care in Canada. NFACC brings together farmers and other agriculture and food sector representatives, animal welfare groups, enforcement and government under a collective decision-making model for advancing farm animal welfare. Conference registration is now open, with details available on the NFACC website at www.nfacc.ca/conferences.

"Farm animal welfare has gained ground worldwide as an important component of food production. It is drawing higher consumer interest, along with higher expectations for standards and transparency," says Edouard Asnong, a Pike River, Québec, hog farmer and chair of NFACC. "Animal welfare is also a major focus of new science, innovation and a range of initiatives that are creating new opportunities, from the farm level to the consumer level. This conference is about working together across the value chain and among diverse interest groups, to learn from one another and support Canada as a leader in farm animal welfare care."

Day one of the conference covers achievements related to NFACC, Codes of Practice and the Animal Care Assessment Model. The agenda features presentations by Susie Miller, Director General with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Ryder Lee of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association; Dr. Tina Widowski of University of Guelph; Tim Faveri, Director of Sustainability and Responsibility with Tim Hortons Inc.; and Ron Maynard, a dairy producer and Vice President of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

The morning of day two focuses on challenges, with presentations covering how to address an animal welfare crisis, by media and crisis communication consultant Jeff Ansell; what Canadians really think about food and farming, by Crystal Mackay of Food and Farm Care Ontario; bridging the gap between farmers and the public, by Jeff Spooner of the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program; and pain assessment and management, by Ed Pajor of the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

The afternoon of day two highlights future directions, including examples such as managing diverse views in animal welfare; achieving compliance through stakeholder networks; seeking input on the future direction of NFACC; and framing NFACC in a Canadian and international context. Featured speakers include Stephani McCallum, Managing Director of Dialogue Partners Inc.; Darrell Dalton, Interim Registrar of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association; Sonya Fiorini, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility at Loblaw Companies Limited ?and animal welfare expert Dan Weary, a professor and NSERC Research Chair at the University of British Columbia.

"We are pleased to have this excellent group of speakers who will offer a range of insights and perspectives," says Jackie Wepruk, NFACC General Manager. "We encourage early registration to make sure you don't miss this unique opportunity to learn, network and participate in dialogue that will help shape Canada's future in farm animal care."

Funding for the Codes of Practice is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) through the Agricultural Flexibility Fund, as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan.