Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 1, Edition 6

'ProAction': The next game-changer for Canada?

February 21, 2013

Farm animal care is a key part of the mix in this bold new proposed dairy sector program that many in agriculture are watching closely as a model for other livestock industries.

At the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) Policy Conference in Ottawa this February, delegates discussed the proAction Initiative - a bold new approach toward the integrated delivery of on-farm programs including farm animal care assessments.

For Canada's dairy farmers, the proposed approach represents a major step forward, poised to re-draw the blueprints for how on-farm programs are delivered. It also holds potential to dramatically improve how the industry meets a rising wave of new expectations all tied to sustainability. Many in agriculture are watching closely, as the dairy sector blazes a new trail that could become a model for other livestock industries.

"This is about integrating on-farm programs for a new generation, in a way that is efficient, works well for producers and addresses societal expectations," says Wally Smith, DFC President. "We believe we need to be proactive in addressing changing needs and responding to consumers' thirst for knowledge about their food. We also believe that we, the farmers, should design the program in a way that makes sense for farmers. The board and our members see the opportunity to streamline and coordinate various best management practices under one umbrella."

ProAction would create uniform nationwide delivery of validation for milk quality, food safety, animal welfare, biosecurity, traceability and environment, by combining these components under the existing infrastructure for the Canadian Quality Milk (CQM) on-farm food safety program. While only a proposal at this point, proAction has gained traction through a series of consultations with producers across the country.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Getting to the meat of the new Beef Code

February 21, 2013

Ryder Lee of CCA provides insights on the process and what matters for producers, as the public comment period hits the stretch run

The new draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle has entered a two-month public comment period. This is an opportunity for beef producers and others to review the draft and provide feedback before it is finalized and implemented as an important tool for managing beef cattle welfare in Canada.

There has been a lot talk of about the Codes of Practice for livestock species in recent months as several are moving through the development process, which is coordinated through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

Ryder Lee, manager of provincial / federal relations for Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) has been the point person representing beef producers at the NFACC table during this process. In a webinar hosted by Alberta Beef Producers, he provided insights on the process and what matters for producers, as the two-month public comment period that began Jan. 8 gets set to wrap up on March 8. In no particular order, here are highlights of some of the key perspectives he provided.

  1. NFACC model has advantages
  2. Tackling the 'creep' issue
  3. Impact depends on the individual
  4. Kick starting constructive discussion
  5. Will the Code provide a weapon for industry critics?
  6. Common sense rules the day
  7. Benefits outweigh costs
  8. Reasons for optimism
  9. Mindset makes a difference

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Three things to watch at Livestock Care Conference

February 21, 2013

Spotlight set for Calgary, March 21-22

AFAC display

The Livestock Care Conference has earned a reputation for tackling the tough topics in farm animal care, with leading speakers anchoring important discussion by the cross-section of producers and other industry stakeholders who participate.

The upcoming 2013 LCC is shaping up as no exception. Here's a heads up on three highlights of the agenda sure to raise important questions and considerations for Canadian livestock producers and their industries.

Assessment models. One question leads to another. As Canadian livestock industries take a major step forward with updated Codes of Practice, the next question many anticipate is how these industries can provide assurance the Codes are followed. A major focus of LCC 2013 are presentations and an interactive session looking into the progress in developing an animal care assessment model for Canada and weighing the pros and cons of various options.

What are the benefits of having a consistent framework for assessments across all livestock species? How can the assessment model work in a practical sense to support implementation of the Codes? How does Canada's approach compare to what other countries are doing? What's the expected timeframe and what's the bottom line for livestock producers? These questions and others will be dissected and debated in what promises to be a lively and engaging discussion.

Click here to read the full story.

Codes round-up: News & notes

February 21, 2013

What's new and on deck

The process marches on for the development of several updated Code of Practice documents for major livestock species in Canada. Here's a quick round-up of key action:

Beef Code – The public comment period started Jan. 8 and is open until March 8. This is the chance for individual beef producers to review the draft Code and have their say on what they like or don't like about it. This feedback will influence the final draft slated for implementation later this year.

"It's one thing to tell me your comments or concerns, but at this stage of the process it's better for producers to participate directly," says Ryder Lee, CCC manager of provincial / federal relations, who has represented beef producers on the Code development committee. "Now's the chance to have your say on what the committee has come up with for the draft Code. The more producers who participate the better the outcome will be for the beef industry."

Click here to read the full story.


February 21, 2013

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

Buzz words, 'food sovereignty' and the next big challenge

From "social license" to "building trust," there have been a lot of buzz terms floating around the new world of farm animal care. They help identify what's at stake for livestock industries and what is needed to manage this issue and other big-picture sustainability challenges for agriculture.

As the debates and discussions dig deeper, one term poised to become more important than ever for livestock producers and their industries is "food sovereignty." What does this mean exactly? For many, it's not a brand new concept but one that is noticeably fast becoming a much bigger part of the conversation around agriculture.

The term was coined to describe the right of peoples to define their own food systems. It is often used in a national context, to describe the degree of control a particular country has over its own food supply. Watch for this term and how it used in the discussion around farm animal care. There is a growing feeling in academic circles, and increasingly in industry circles, that the ability of countries to manage sustainability issues such as livestock welfare will have an important impact on food sovereignty.

Countries that manage these issues well will enjoy greater social acceptance and stability for their livestock industries, while those that don't will see greater challenges in meeting new global expectations and standards. There is a growing belief that this will play a role in the ability of countries such as Canada, which have had the luxury of being able to rely on imports and aren't protectionist of local agriculture the way many European countries are, to maintain a strong domestically produced meat supply.

Is this the next big challenge for Canadian agriculture? Stay tuned as the debate around food sovereignty heats up in the months ahead. It's one we'll keep following in NewStream Farm Animal Care.

Window on welfare: Zeroing in on top priorities

Farm animal care and environmental opportunities were the focus at the "Cultivating a sustainable future" conference in Ontario, hosted by Farm & Food Care Ontario. The conference agenda served as a window on the issues and opportunities in each area that are shaping up as the top priorities for farmers. On the livestock welfare side, examples of topics discussed included public survey results on what Canadians really think about food and farming today, the next evolution in animal health and welfare, producer survey results of what's happening on-farm, and a researcher perspective on what can science tell us.

An interactive round-table discussion was designed to get opinions on where things are headed and how the industry can move forward with a winning strategy. The discussions will support the framework for the future direction of Farm & Food Care Ontario's two advisory councils. More information is available on the Farm & Food Care website.




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