Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 2, Edition 10

Will the market pay more for welfare?

May 29, 2014

High-tech webinar navigates the issue and what it means for farmers

It's a deceptively simple question that encapsulates many complex and difficult realities for livestock producers and their industries.

Several key viewpoints were offered during a recent major webinar on animal welfare and the food industry, presented by World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Canadian Business for Social Responsibility.

The high-tech session, connected via both the web and in-person TelePresence conferences in four Canadian cities – Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver – featured an expert panel that delved into a number of hot button topics. It started by quickly honing in on perspectives around the 'Will the market pay?' question.

Balancing risk and opportunity

"We have a core belief that we want to move the world to protect animals," says Martin Cooke, International Head of Corporate Engagement, WSPA , who joined the session remotely from London, England. "In saying that, we recognize that any solution that improves animal welfare fundamentally has to be right for business as well. What often happens is that businesses move toward thinking about animal welfare because they see the issue as a risk to reputation or to production. One of the messages we'd like to get across is that there's also a great opportunity."

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Curating a conversation

May 29, 2014

Leaders speak up on the opportunity for driving innovation that benefits animals while also supporting industry success

The webinar on "Animal Welfare and the Food Industry" featured a range of other insights on everything from risks and opportunities within the supply chain to the role of standards and 'trust marks' to authenticate best practices.

Here is a small collection of examples among numerous highlights.

Breaking down silos

"One of the risks we face is having this conversation in silos. One of the opportunities we have is to break down these silos and have a more, diverse collaborative conversation about what are the issues around animal welfare how should we be addressing them. For the National Farm Animal Care Council, that's part of our whole reason for being, to bring very diverse groups who would not normally talk to each other around a common table to have those, sometimes very uncomfortable, conversations. What can be done? When can it be done? How can it be done? How do we define appropriate animal welfare? We all have different perspectives and values. A collaborative approach can lead us to consensus toward real progress."

– Jackie Wepruk, General Manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Survey says: Vets weigh in on the state of welfare

May 29, 2014

Participants from over 56 countries offered views on the preparedness of the profession to address welfare issues globally

The world is coming together on animal welfare issues and that includes the veterinary community. One case in point was a recent webinar organized by the World Veterinary Association.

The event, titled "Veterinary leadership: Empowering tools for vets in the field of animal welfare," was organized in part to mark the World Veterinary Day and also to highlight and support the rising priority of animal welfare as a focus of leadership and collaboration among the global veterinary community.

An interesting component of the webinar, attended mostly by veterinarians and veterinary students from 56 countries, was a series of interactive poll questions on various issues related to the topics covered. The results provide a unique window on how veterinarians globally perceive their state of preparedness and leadership opportunity to address today's most pressing welfare issues.

Click here to read the full story.


May 29, 2014

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

ALMA Future Fare: Farm Animal Care leadership takes focus

The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) has taken on an important role in the province – to be a catalyst for livestock industry advancement. Part of that means putting a spotlight on the key issues and creating a mindset of industry leadership toward progress.

One area that qualifies is farm animal care. The issue is rising in importance and now for the second year in a row it is set to become a keynote topic at ALMA's signature event, the Future Fare Conference. Billed as an "annual feature celebration of Alberta's dynamic agricultural leaders" the conference last year featured Deane Collinson, CEO of Calgary Co-op, talking welfare and other attributes rising on the radar of consumer demand. (See our related story: "Next steps for Calgary Co-op.")

Lorna Baird, AFAC Executive Director. Photo credit: Nutmeg Photography

For 2014, Future Fare' showcase lineup – June 16 and 17 in Edmonton - will include a discussion delivered by Lorna Baird, the Executive Director of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC). Both ALMA and AFAC have been major supporters of NewStream Farm Animal Care. Don't miss it if you have a chance to attend Future Fare. Get full details at www.futurefare.org.

Whole Foods juggernaut drives welfare agenda

A recent cover story in Fortune magazine chronicles the rapid rise of Whole Foods Market in the U.S. ("Whole Foods Takes Over America.")What does this mean for Canadian livestock producers and their industries? A lot, actually.

Not only is this distinctly modern and sustainability-focused supermarket chain a major player in shaping consumer animal welfare expectations, its success is increasingly viewed as a bellwether of mainstream consumer views. That's right, mainstream. Not the fringe. Not the so-called 10 percent.

What ripple effects will the 'Whole Foods factor' have on other major supermarket chains and big food industry brands? No doubt this is a question many will follow closely in the months ahead, including NewStream editors.

A good primer on what this factor may mean for the farm animal care agenda is the company's web page on the issue. It includes an overview of the Whole Foods animal welfare philosophy and much-discussed "5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards."




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