Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 1, Edition 14

Next steps for Calgary Co-op

July 16, 2013

Calgary Co-op is one of the largest retail co-operatives in North America.

Member's resolution on eggs and pork is non-binding but some form of change appears likely

Now what?

It's an obvious question following the landmark vote by Calgary Co-op members in favor of eggs and pork not sourced from production systems using particular poultry cages and sow gestation stalls.

A clear picture of what the future holds remains elusive, as the retailer cautiously and methodically moves through a process to evaluate the implications of the vote and its options for moving forward.

Deane Collinson, CEO of Calgary Co-op, spoke at the recent Future Fare event in Red Deer, hosted by the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA).

He offered an overview of Calgary Co-op's unique position in the marketplace and always-evolving efforts to boost competitiveness. He also provided an insider's perspective on what the resolution may indicate about shifting consumer attitudes, along with the potential implications for the retailer's marketing approaches and supply relationships.

Here's a sampling of the key points and insights from that session:

Vote is non-binding. The member's resolution on eggs and pork sourcing – passed by 97-67 – is non-binding, but reading between the lines of Collinson's comments, it seems a shift in this direction is likely over time depending on the logistics of securing supply. Ultimate decisions rest with the Calgary Co-op board and executive management. The retailer has said it will work with Federated Co-operatives Ltd. as well as producer groups, including Alberta Pork, as it examines potential next steps.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Eye on Stampede: Progress making headlines

July 16, 2013

Leading-edge IRT technology and a fresh, open approach to questions are two examples of how the event is making significant inroads on farm animal care

Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is making animal care news for the right reasons during this year's edition of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

The world-renowned event has made notable innovations in recent years to strengthen all of its processes related to animal care, including codes of practice, protocols and communications with the public. It's all part of a renewed strategy to support a culture of industry leading standards and continuous improvement.

Two stories highlighted in the early days of Stampede are good examples of the progressive mindset that has taken hold.

High-tech look at bucking animals

One that has drawn attention is the use of an infrared thermography (IRT) device being used for research on the behavior of animals just prior to bucking events. The IRT tool is used to scan the eyes of bucking horses and bulls as a means to measure physiological cues that may indicate stress or excitement.

"We're looking at the potential of this tool to help us identify some of the more subtle cues of the animal's emotional response," says Dr. Ed Pajor of the University of Calgary.

Click here to read the full story.

Global stage: Three key concepts taking hold

July 16, 2013

Canada is not the only country taking big steps to update its approaches around farm animal care

Here are a few examples from around the world:

Fresh Codes: New Zealand shifts on layer hens. It's a small country that's a big player in livestock agriculture. New Zealand has a National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee that has put out new recommendations toward an updated welfare code for layer hens. Includes a three-stage timetable for phasing out battery cages by 2022. Learn more here.

New definitions: Australia examines language on cage free. The lexicon is also evolving around the world as new definitions emerge to identify welfare-related characteristics of production systems. One recent example is in Australia progress is underway to rectify the fact there are no regulations set out for what can be classed as a free-range egg or a barn-laid egg. The South Australian government is proposing a voluntary code for egg labelling to address this. Learn more here.

Trade criteria: EU pressure for welfare in discussions. Three influential European animal welfare groups submitted a letter to the Irish Presidency of the Council of Europe and the EU27 ambassadors calling for consumer, animal welfare and environmental issues to be considered during July's Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the United States. This is just the latest example that pressure is increasing for animal welfare to become part of the discussions at international trade tables. Learn more here.


July 16, 2013

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

New framework for horse care launched

Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

A busy summer is underway for many commodity groups and industry sectors as activity rolls forward on a number of animal care initiatives.

One group that got a key part of its business done early is the horse sector, which recently announced the completion of a new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines.

It had been some time since this framework had been updated and the initial reaction points to some strong progress made in documenting the requirements and recommendations that reflect proper horse care in Canada.

"The development of this new Code is perhaps the most important project in recent Canadian history for the health and welfare of equines in Canada," says Jack de Wit, Director with the Equine Canada Board of Directors and Chair of the Code Development Committee. "This is a Code of Practice we can all be proud to have. It is among the most comprehensive of equine Codes internationally, and will serve a vital role across our diverse industry."

Food and the planet

Summer is also a time to catch up on the growing number of books, other media and resources that represent the latest thinking on the world of agriculture, including the issues and progress around farm animal care, and what it means in the big picture.

No doubt there is a diverse variety of viewpoints out there. One group that has assumed a leadership position in speaking from a food industry perspective promoting education is the Center for Food Integrity. The Center is currently featuring a video on the home page of its website that tackles "How can today's food system meet the growing global demand to produce more food using fewer resources?" It's a good reflection of where the this fundamental discussion rests today from a food industry perspective and what many feel are key messages to reinforce with the general consumer. Check it out here.




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