Shorter times in transit for livestock are among the proposals in new regulations posted for public comment Dec. 3 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
About 700 million animals are transported each year, a figure that includes mostly poultry but also cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and goats.
The CFIA said in background information accompanying the proposed changes that about two percent of animal shipments do not comply with current regulations on transport time, loading and unloading.
That means about 14 million animals could potentially suffer during transportation, and 1.59 million would be dead on arrival.
“Given the strong public support for preventing the suffering of animals and the risk to human and animal health, this must be addressed,” the CFIA said in its background data.
The changes proposed would amend the Health of Animals Act. Transport regulations in that act date back to 1977.
The CFIA said existing rules do not reflect current science nor do they match current industry practice in many cases. As well, they do not meet the standards of many international trading partners.
Brady Stadnicki, policy analyst with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said the CCA provided input to the CFIA on cattle transportation issues and it is now reviewing the proposals with a view to providing comment.
“Generally, our message has always been just that we’re not opposed to making amendments to the regulations just as long as they’re based on science representative of Canadian conditions … and as much as possible can be outcome based rather than prescriptive.”
The regulatory proposals were quickly panned by Animal Justice, a group with the stated mission of “leading the legal fight for animal protection.”
It termed them woefully inadequate and said they put the convenience and profits of animal-use industries ahead of animal welfare in priority.
In its background data, the CFIA said its objectives with the amendments are to better reflect new science on the care and handling of animals to reduce risk, better align Canada’s requirements with those of other countries and satisfy societal expectations regarding responsible animal care in transport.
The proposals include cost estimates for businesses to provide feed, water and rest to animals either on trucks or at off-loading areas, as well as estimates to provide more training to personnel and to increase record keeping.
Estimates indicate that total incremental costs for compliance with the proposed new regulations would be $556,217 a year, or $444 per business expected to be affected.
The background information and complete list of proposed changes can be found at www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2016/2016-12-03/html/reg2-eng.php#reg.
Public input will be accepted until Feb. 15.