Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 1, Edition 1

Welcome to NewStream Farm Animal Care

Posted: November 22, 2012

A new way to get information, built for livestock producers and industry

Freedom to operate. Perspectives and politics. New ways to farm better and keep competitive. Science, policy, trade and innovation. Thinking, ideas and developments. From the global scene to the farm down the road. Farm animal care is a fast moving area capturing all this and more. Most of all, it's simply what livestock producers do – hands-on, every day.

However you look at it, one thing certain is that farm animal care has never been higher profile or more important to the success of livestock producers and their industry.

Want to keep up and make sense of it all? NewStream Farm Animal Care is built precisely for you. This new service is designed for livestock producers, and those who work with producers and industry. The target is to give you the bottom line on what you need to know in farm animal care, along with valuable ideas and insights, to support your role as manager and decision maker on the front line of this issue.

Industry leadership

NewStream Farm Animal Care is developed and delivered by Meristem – an Alberta-based information company with a focus on issues and progress in western agriculture.

It is sponsored by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC), as part of a new Information Leadership Initiative from AFAC and the Alberta Livestock Industry. AFAC is the farm animal care organization that represents all major livestock producer organizations in the province. Core funding support for the initiative is provided through the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA).

"This new initiative is about helping livestock producers stay at the leading edge of farm animal care," says Heini Hehli, a Rimbey area dairy producer and Chair of AFAC. "It is designed to give producers the information they need to make good decisions on their farms and in their industry. As livestock producers, we share the values of making sure farm animals are well cared for throughout their lifetimes and that industry follows best practices based on the latest knowledge. This initiative is an example of how we are building on that commitment for the future."

Sign up today

Producers and other with an interest in farm animal care can sign up to receive regular bi-weekly editions of NewStream Farm Animal Care, free of charge. Click here for sign-up information.

Feedback welcome

Comments, suggestions and story ideas are also welcome and encouraged. Send your thoughts to with Farm Animal Care in the subject line.

Important note: NewStream Farm Animal Care is an independent service produced by Meristem editors. The information and opinions presented are those of Meristem editors and the sources referenced alone and may not necessarily reflect the views of, or be endorsed by our sponsors, Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC), the Alberta Livestock Industry and Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA).

'Social license' and the new world of livestock care

Posted: November 22, 2012

Leaders tell what's driving progress and what producers need to know

A new culture of farm animal care is emerging internationally. From the farmer to the consumer. From the production level to the trade level.

There's more awareness, greater expectations and a swath of new progress and developments with implications for business, research, policy, industry and more.

What's driving this rising profile and fast-shifting environment? Here's a snapshot of five key issues that play a leading role and what livestock producers and their industries need to know.

1. 'Social license' to operate. It's a concept soon to become ingrained at all levels of industry – particularly in sectors such as agriculture where the health and success of the industry depends greatly on the relationship with the public. Do people trust the food system? Do they think livestock are well cared for? According to Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, the level of trust agriculture has directly relates to its "social license" or ability to operate freely without the burdens of heavy external control through regulation, legislation or market requirements.

The need to protect and strengthen social license is what is driving much of the activity in farm animal care today, says Arnot. "When you have trust, you have more support and more freedom to operate. That has never been more important for livestock industries than it is today."

Click here to read the complete feature article.

North American Forum: Time is now to protect social contract

Posted: November 22, 2012

Livestock welfare shares big part of spotlight at first-ever North American Forum on Sustainable Animal Agriculture, featuring top speakers from Canada, U.S.

It's part of the fingerprint. It's part of the DNA. Now's the time to talk about it, to build bridges with consumers.

This was the attitude that cut through about farm animal welfare, as farming and food leaders from across Canada and the United States came together in Mississauga, Ontario for the inaugural North American Forum on Sustainable Animal Agriculture.

The conference focused on defining the key components of animal agriculture today that are critical to the sustainability of the industry. Livestock welfare was identified as a major part of the mix that continues to rise in profile, alongside key issues such as economics, food safety, nutrition, environmental stewardship and others. Establishing the right approaches and effective communication with consumers to build trust on all these issues was recognized as critical to maintain and strengthen the industry's social contract.

Call to action for Canada

"I think what was most exciting from this forum was the definite call to action," says Crystal Mackay, executive director of Farm & Food Care Ontario. "Participants were very clear in their discussion groups that Canada's agrifood sector needs a proactive national communications strategy to develop a social contract with Canadians."

Click here to read the full story.

Drivers of Care: Q&A with Duane Landals

Posted: November 22, 2012

Insights on the role of veterinarians and how to respond to rising expectations in today's welfare-conscious environment

At the heart of today's progress and innovation in farm animal care is one thing: people - those who make a difference, whether by leading, inspiring others, providing fresh thinking, doing the hands-on work or all of the above.

These "Drivers of Care" represent the new face of livestock welfare, and their thoughts and ideas provide a window not only on where things are headed but where tomorrow's solutions lie.

NewStream Farm Animal Care, will feature a regular Q&A series designed to harvest a top-of-mind sampling of these insights from some of today's leading drivers of farm animal care progress.

We kick-off with with Dr. Duane Landals, a well-known long-time leader and champion of farm animal welfare in Alberta, whose involvement and influence has extended across Canada and internationally. Landals is Registrar of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) and is a long-serving aboard member of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC).

Click here to read the Q&A.


Posted: November 22, 2012

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

Tim Hortons and Sobeys join NFACC

Looking for a sign that livestock welfare is a front burner issue for the retail sector in Canada? There's little doubt of that, with the latest example the news that sector heavyweights Tim Hortons and Sobeys have joined as Associate Members of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

For the production agriculture players at the NFACC table, this is a positive to have that type of direct participation and opportunity for discussion. Livestock welfare is a complex issue with broad expectations – the more heads around the table from major components of the food industry, the better.

Examples of how these corporations have positioned are available on the web. Click here to view the Tim Hortons statement on animal welfare, or here (scroll to the bottom) for information from Sobey's.

McDonalds takes questions

Hot on the heels of the Tims and Sobeys activity is the announcement of a global giant taking another big, innovative step forward in managing relations and expectations around livestock welfare and other food sustainability issues.

McDonald's Corporation launched a new website titled "Our food. Your questions." Check it out here. Another bold step for the company on the sustainability file and, in our opinion, an example of how to do it right when it comes to the PR front. Will be interesting to see how quickly others follow the McDonald's lead.

Dairy welfare meetings showcase progress

The dairy sector in Canada is fast gaining recognition as a leader in encouraging dialogue and research related to farm animal care and looking for ways to strengthen livestock welfare approaches. A recent showcase of this progress was the first Dairy Cattle Welfare Symposium in Guelph, Ont.

Click here to view the program – it's a pretty good window on some of the key issues and progress on the dairy agenda. One in particular we think is key for all livestock sectors is how to move toward assessment models. Stay tuned for lots of good discussion on that more on that out of the 2013 Livestock Care Conference slated for next spring.




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