Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 3, Edition 4

Buzzworthy: Three main "take home" messages

Posted: April 2, 2015

These themes set the tone for debate and discussion at the Livestock Care Conference.

What was the Livestock Care Conference about? One simple way to reference what was covered is the agenda of the meeting. But equally important and often more telling is the chatter that takes place in and around the conference, during session breaks and informal visits where a lot of the knowledge sharing occurs.

Here's a snapshot of several' buzzworthy' topics from the conversation both during and around the proceedings, which serve as key "take home" messages from the event:

1. Leadership takes commitment

Safe to say there would be strong support among all Livestock Care Conference participants for the target that Alberta, all provinces and Canada as a whole adopt a path of leadership and continual improvement in farm animal care.

However progress takes resources. And even the best ideas hold little value without implementation.

A call to action made by several speakers and echoed in conversations around the conference was the need to strengthen the commitment of agriculture on all fronts. This is required to allow farm animal care leadership to truly solidify as a reality across industry sectors and become an ingrained part of Canada's agriculture brand both at home and abroad.

2. People power and generational renewal are critical

In his wrap-up comments on the conference, long-time farm animal care leader Dr. Duane Landals called on participants to celebrate and build on clear strengths that have emerged. Top of the list among these strengths were the people that collectively are the driving force behind real animal care progress. This is a force that needs to be continually recognized, nurtured and developed, he says.

"Dedicated and committed people bring action and progress. They also bring continuity that is absolutely essential to anything we are able to achieve. Part of this is also the participation of students and young people - the new faces who bring fresh perspectives, energy and renewal to our community."

3. The time for action is now

Several speakers also addressed the need for livestock industries to be "proactive" rather than "reactive" and to really take charge of the issues related to farm animal care. Not next month. Not next year. But taking time every day to "push the ball forward" and advance agriculture's leadership agenda on this important area of progress. "What can you do? What can your industry do? What can we accomplish together?"

These were questions posed regularly to participants that elicited a wealth of honest, well thought out, and often impassioned responses, particularly during a Bear Pit Interactive Session moderated by Debra Murphy of RealAgriculture.

This sense of urgency is something many will take with them from the conference. It couldn't come at a better time as farm animal care continues to increase in profile as one the most prominent areas of discussion, shifting expectations and new opportunities in animal agriculture.

A new aura of confidence

In addition to these take home messages, one clear underlying feeling across the table and hallway conversations is a feeling of confidence anchoring the world of farm animal care. Where at one time animal welfare discussions were confined to backroom discussions, today's animal welfare discussions take place on Main Street.

The Western Hog Exchange could have reacted poorly to an undercover video of animal abuse. Instead they accepted responsibility and took decisive action to ensure they were managing appropriately going forward. That included CEO Brent Moen talking openly to the Livestock Care Conference about that journey.

Conference speakers showed their willingness to tackle the tough issues head on. The industry is doing market research to clearly understand the impact on consumers and society. Journalists are engaged in the topics. Students are signing on to animal care courses, anxious to participate. And organizations such as Alberta Farm Animal Care and their members are building innovative programs to meet the needs of this new world.

It is a new world for farm animal welfare.

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NewStream Farm Animal Care,
Volume 3, Edition 4.




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