NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 3, Edition 5
Walmart makes waves
June 4, 2015
Ground breaking animal welfare policy sends major ripples throughout agriculture and food
Last fall Walmart announced a new commitment to making its food supply chain more sustainable, including strengthened focus on animal welfare, with much fanfare at its Global Milestone Meeting, which built on momentum from its first-ever Sustainable Product Expo earlier that year.
Now the other shoe has dropped with the retail giant's launch of a major new animal welfare policy that encompasses Walmart's complete supply chain and covers a broad number of practices and issues from use of antimicrobials to housing systems, 'painful procedures' and euthanasia.
"Our customers want to know more about how their food is grown and raised, and where it comes from," says Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and senior vice president of Walmart sustainability. "As the nation's largest grocer, Walmart is committed to using our strengths to drive transparency and improvement across the supply chain.
"We believe it's important to promote transparency in this process, helping to put our customers in charge of their food choices by providing clear, accurate information about food ingredients. We appreciate the leadership our suppliers have shown to help us accomplish these goals."
Tipping points, trends and the FDA mindset
June 4, 2015
Inside the thinking that has led to unprecedented recent action on use of antimicrobials
Crossing over with trends in farm animal welfare is rising action and debate on the use of antimicrobials, culminating in the big recent news from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on new rules with major implications across agriculture, food, human medicine and beyond.
The new "Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)" final rule aims to effectively shut down routine use of antimicrobials and shift decision-making power firmly to veterinary oversight to support an environment where the drugs are given only when necessary for the health of food-producing animals.
The move itself is huge. But equally intriguing is the dynamic mix of trends and developments that underlies it - comprising a blend of shifts in food awareness, agriculture, activism, corporate responsibility and more.
Here's some insight right from the horse's mouth, from recent speeches by Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs for the FDA, which lead up to the VFD launch.
CLT drives forward
June 4, 2015
New funding injection breathes fresh life into critical program for responsible farm animal transport
Canada has become a recognized leader internationally in the safe and humane transport of livestock. A major reason why is the Canadian Livestock Transport (CLT) Certification Program – a comprehensive training course and support service for livestock truckers, shippers and receivers.
CLT was started as the "Certified Livestock Transport" training program originally developed through Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) in association with its sister animal care associations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The program has long enjoyed strong success and industry engagement at the regional level. In October 2013, as part of an effort to expand and strengthen national reach, it was shifted to a new home under the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC), a not-for-profit organization serving Canada´s farmed animal industry.
Related: Calgary Conference showcases CLT progress
Fresh insights from Dr. Temple Grandin led a knowledge-packed agenda that tackled the key issues and featured a range of top speakers on welfare and transport.
Young dairy farmers talk welfare
June 4, 2015
Setting the stage for a new generation of progress
Continued animal welfare leadership is one of the most important issues to the future of Canada's dairy industry and that was reflected clearly in discussion among young dairy farmers at the Next Generation Forum in Red Deer, hosted by Alberta Milk and sponsors.
"It was a great opportunity to be in an environment where people my age could ask questions and be a part of an open discussion about the dairy industry and the future we can create together," say Brittany Derksen, one of the approximately 40 young dairy farmers from across the province in attendance.
Speakers from across the country joined to help inspire and educate the farmers. Presentations ranged from big picture themes like governance and national issues, to on-farm topics like succession planning. Animal care and welfare was a major, featured part of the agenda, with the full morning dedicated to this topic.
June 4, 2015
Quick takes on key activity and what's coming, from NewStream editors
The Livestock Care Conference serves as a window on current industry progress and interests in farm animal care. Two clear priorities are to provide hands-on training and to encourage the involvement of students and young people who bring renewal and fresh perspectives to the industry.
Canada's progress marches on
It has been a remarkable few weeks in farm animal care as a number of issues long simmering have boiled over in the form of major announcements and developments both locally and internationally.
Canadian livestock producers and their industries are standing strong in the wake of all this activity, in large part due to a proactive and progressive mindset that has set the country apart and left it well positioned for the future.
One of the best examples of the cumulative effort that has involved multi-layers and components of industry across the country, as well as many outside the industry, is the ongoing work on Codes of Practice and Assessment Programs. The effort there reflects many parallel developments. Lots has been accomplished. And there's lots left to do. No time to stand still.
The organization that has anchored the Codes development and provided a framework for developing Assessments is the National Farm Animal Care Council, which as a sign of Canada's further recently announced the addition of A&W and McDonald's as new Associate Members, joining a now already quite broad and diversified membership.
There are many different views on how both of these retail quick service heavyweights have approached the welfare issue. But one thing NFACC and much of Canada's collective effort has been consistent with is the idea that progress is best served with different stakeholders at the same table working together.
NewStream, like many others, will be intrigued to follow what these additions mean for the future.
New Codes work underway
In the meantime, progress on Codes work marches on. The recent period of Agriculture Flexibility project funding has supported the update and release of six Codes of Practice (pigs, sheep, beef cattle, equine, mink and farmed fox). And now the current new project under Growing Forward 2is allowing NFACC to complete revisions to two other Codes (poultry - layers and meat birds), initiate and complete the review of two additional Codes (bison and veal calves) and develop a Code for rabbits.
The first meetings of Code Development Committees for the new Codes have occurred over the past few months and statements from the key organizations involved reflect the spirit of cooperation and forward thinking that bodes well for a successful process:
Bison. "Since the last Code was published in 2001, the benefits of science and another 14 years of experience with these majestic animals will allow us to update the present Code to provide producers and other stakeholders with clear and transparent practices on accepted bison care and handling practices."
– Mark Silzer, President of the Canadian Bison Association Veal calves.
Veal. "The Canadian Veal Association is looking forward to partnering with NFACC on the veal Code of Practice review process. Review and update of the 1998 veal Code will involve stakeholders from a wide cross section of the industry and will be focused on ensuring up-todate and practical approaches to the care and welfare of calves raised for the veal market."
– Bob Wynands, President of Canadian Veal Association Rabbits.
Rabbit. "The development of this Code is an excellent opportunity for Canada's rabbit sector to come together and establish a national standard that ensures a good quality of life for rabbits raised in Canada. The NFACC Code process ensures this Code is relevant, current and developed with input from across our diverse sector."
–Maxime Tessier, Vice-President of the Syndicat des producteurs de lapins du Québec.