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Concrete progress on Pig Code brings finish line into focus

Posted: December 2, 2013

Canada is closing in on a major milestone to complete a new Code of Practice for the care and handling of pigs. Farm animal care stakeholders made strong progress this week at meetings in Ottawa to forge agreement on the tough issues toward finalizing a renewed Code. This included a major focus on the public comments around the high-profile issue of sow housing, as well as finding consensus on broader issues like feed and water, animal health, husbandry practices and euthanasia.

"We have made great strides towards final agreement and are on track to have a new Code for the new year," says Florian Possberg, chair of the Pig Code Development Committee who runs a family hog operation in Saskatchewan. "Final agreement on a substantial portion of the Code content has now been reached, with plans to complete the remainder at a final meeting in January. After that, some time will be needed to have the final Code translated, copy edited, and published."

Specific details on Code content cannot be publicly released until the Code is fully finalized and published, which is expected to be spring 2014.

The process of developing Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals is coordinated through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). Pig Code development has been led by a Pig Code Development Committee representing diverse interest groups, including farmers and others in the agriculture and food industry value chain, animal welfare groups, enforcement and government.

"There has been a tremendous effort from the Code Development Committee to work together and build consensus on often complex and challenging issues," says Jackie Wepruk, NFACC General Manager. "It has been a long road to get to this point and the progress we are now seeing is a testament to everyone's commitment to the common goal of achieving a Code that is good for the animals and implementable by producers."

Codes of Practice set out national guidelines for the care and handling of farm animals. They promote sound management and welfare through recommendations and requirements for housing, management, transportation, processing and other animal husbandry practices.

The Pig Code development process has involved several key stages. It was initiated in October 2010 at the request of Canadian Pork Council (CPC). In addition to being led by the multi-stakeholder Code Development Committee, it has included the contribution of a Scientific Committee that conducted a review of scientific research on priority issues. A draft Code was initially completed in early 2013 and, released for a public comment period that took place from June 1 to August 3.

The public comment period resulted in over 4,700 comments submitted. The Code Development Committee has since been reviewing and considering these comments toward finalizing the Code, with the Ottawa meetings this past week being a major opportunity for face-to-face discussion to determine areas of final consensus.

Funding for the Codes of Practice is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Agricultural Flexibility Fund, under the Addressing Domestic and International Market Expectations Relative to Farm Animal Welfare initiative, as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan.

About NFACC

The National Farm Animal Care Council is the lead organization for farm animal care in Canada. More information on NFACC and the Pig Code Development Process is available at www.nfacc.ca.