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Future of livestock welfare takes spotlight at National Farm Animal Care Conference

Posted: September 5, 2013

From new Codes of Practice and rising marketplace expectations to effective communication strategies and leadership opportunities. There's arguably no better place to get the bottom line on today's quickly changing world of livestock welfare and what it means for all stakeholders than the upcoming National Farm Animal Care Conference Oct. 9-10 in Ottawa.

There's still time to register for this major national conference, hosted by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). The event is highly relevant for participants across the agriculture and food value chain as well as others with an interest in farm animal care. Registration and agenda details are available on the NFACC website at www.nfacc.ca/conferences.

"New expectations and approaches in farm animal care are driving change with implications for everyone from farmers to retailers to consumers," says Edouard Asnong, a Pike River, Québec, hog farmer and chair of NFACC. "This conference is the place to learn what's happening and what it means. It's also a forum to share ideas for how we can work together to best manage the issues related to farm animal care and support Canada's success."

NFACC is the lead national organization for farm animal care in Canada. It 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.

NFACC is coordinating the development of updated Codes of Practice for the care and handling of various livestock and poultry species, as well as a framework for developing animal care assessment programs. These initiatives are supporting Canada's efforts to innovate and lead in the emerging new world of social sustainability.

Day one of the agenda is a half day afternoon session that focuses on the NFACC-related achievements with Codes and the Animal Care Assessment Framework. Presenters include 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, Vice President of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Day two is a full day. The morning session tackles today's 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 day two afternoon session focuses on future directions. Topics include 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.

"It's an agenda anchored by an excellent group of speakers that provides an encompassing synopsis of the major animal welfare developments and issues," says Jackie Wepruk, NFACC General Manager. "Questions, discussion and interactivity among everyone attending is also a big part of the conference. We encourage those interested to register soon to make sure you don't miss this opportunity to be at the front line of the conversation."

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.