Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 2, Edition 4

Big changes in pressure from animal activists

February 20, 2014

Key indicators show the challenge to the livestock industry is increasing

A lot has changed in the past few years on the animal activist challenge facing the Canadian livestock industry.

Paul Hodgman has seen it firsthand. He has spent a lifetime in the livestock business and today serves as a strategic lead with a business called the Ag & Food Exchange (AFX). It is a fee-based privately run, specialized information and consultation bureau developed with initial financial support from government and now operates based on support from the livestock and food industry.

One of the key goals of AFX is to tackle the activist issue. From his background of working directly with the industry, Hodgman sees several key indicators that clearly demonstrate dramatic developments on the activist front that threaten to overwhelm the livestock industry.

From animal care to business issue. Not that long ago most activist activity was targeted at animal welfare. Today this activity has grown to target the business of animal agriculture at a fundamental level. Activists are challenging the right of the livestock industry to exist. They don't discriminate; all types of livestock production are the target.

Rise of the professional activist. Activism has moved well beyond protests. Today it is an extremely well-funded and sophisticated, lobbying politicians and senior bureaucrats. "They are applying tried and true tactics of defeating enemies and that is to divide and conquer, pitting one group against another and creating conflict among those in the supply chain," says Hodgman.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Hot topics showcased at Livestock Care Conference

February 20, 2014

"There is a new energy and fresh thinking around farm animal care" says Lorna Baird, AFAC Executive Director.

Still time to register for March 26-27 event in Edmonton

Developments in farm animal care have never been higher profile or more important to success in today's livestock and poultry sectors.

Producers, industry and other stakeholders can learn the latest on today's progress and rapidly evolving developments at the upcoming Livestock Care Conference, March 26-27, 2014 in Edmonton, Alberta. The annual conference is hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) in partnership with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA).

Latest developments, innovations

"There is a new energy and fresh thinking around farm animal care that makes it not only one of the most important topics in agriculture today, but also one of the leading areas of innovation," says Lorna Baird, AFAC Executive Director.

"The Livestock Care Conference is designed to provide everyone from individual producers to industry leaders with a unique forum to learn from leading speakers and participate in lively discussion to build a successful future," she says. "We encourage everyone with an interest in farm animal care to attend and be a part of the conversation toward new ideas and solutions."

Click here to read the complete feature article.

New Chipotle campaign: Three things to know

February 20, 2014

An example of rising sophistication in anti-'big ag' approaches

It kicked off around the Super Bowl and is building momentum.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced the next phase of its "Farmed and Dangerous" campaign, which has gained high profile as a satirical approach to targeting 'big animal agriculture' through glitzy Hollywood style production and storytelling.

1. Who's laughing? That's part of the strategy.

It's partly a comedic approach and the question is who's laughing? Likely not many in mainstream animal agriculture, but it's clear that's part of the strategy. If you don't "get it," the campaign implies, you're likely part of the out-of-touch crowd including modern large-scale livestock production that Chipotle is making fun of for its own gain.

Click here to read the full story.

Elanco's "Enough" project tackles food security

February 20, 2014

An example of how industry is pushing back with a logical, informative, aggressive campaign

One way animal agriculture is working to improve relationships and combat the negative rhetoric of activists is through innovative programs that raise awareness and give back on important sustainability issues.

A recent example comes from Elanco, one of the major animal health companies globally. The company has introduced "Enough: The fight for a food secure tomorrow," a report focused on the realities and solutions available to achieve global food security. Sustainable practices, including responsible farm animal care practices, are an integral part of the mix.

"With courage and commitment, we can solve the world's number one health problem – hunger," says Elanco president Jeff Simmons. The report advocates for farmer access to innovative tools in order to feed a growing global population and reduce natural resource use.

"We are currently on the fast track to a crisis and a global shortage of basic foods such as meat, milk and eggs," says Simmons. "For example, today, we are meeting global milk demand primarily by adding cows. On this path, we will need 40 million more dairy cows in order to meet consumer demand for dairy products in 2050. This is simply not sustainable."

A food secure 2050 is a world in which people can afford and access enough healthy, nutritious food is a healthier, more productive, more peaceful world, says Simmons. "We believe every person on earth deserves a minimum of a glass of milk and an egg a day. That's a modest–and achievable–goal, and it's just enough protein and complete nutrition to make the world healthier and happier. And, frankly, less than that is just not enough."

Click here to read the full story.


February 20, 2014

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

Dairy producer wins NewStream survey contest

Many NewStream subscribers replied to our recent survey and Alberta dairy producer Wim Ruysch was the lucky winner of a free registration for the 2014 Livestock Care Conference, March 26, 27, 2014 in Edmonton, Alta.

There were more winners, however, in other ways. The survey responses were an important part of shaping the future of the NewStream service and the Information Leadership Initiative started by Alberta Farm Animal Care on behalf of its Alberta livestock industry stakeholders.

The survey provided strong and clear direction on many aspects of farm animal care and we will take that direction seriously.

One particularly interesting note was the strong interest of virtually all responders to all options on a list of potential topics for future editions. This readership community is clearly engaged in keeping up with developments on all fronts. We appreciate those high expectations and encourage ideas and input at any time. Just click the "feedback" button at the bottom of each edition.

Note: Learn more about the survey results here.

PED and animal welfare

The (porcine epidemic diarrhea) PED threat continues to rise for Canadian producers and clearly animal welfare is an important part of the concern. Farm animal care organizations such as Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) and others have been closely involved in the range of conference calls, virtual town halls and other forums that have been implemented to coordinate industry strategy.

Examples of the best places to get regularly updated information include:

Alberta Pork. For latest news, updates, protocols and prevention tips around PED, go to the new Alberta Pork PEDv Portal at www.albertapork.com.

Canadian Swine Health Board. Information on Canada's national strategy is available at http://www.swinehealth.ca/PED-Alert.php.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. The first Canadian incidences of PED were confirmed in Ontario and the province has taken a leadership role, with information available on the ministry website.




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