Work on codes of practice receive funding

Feds contribute $4.56 million to update codes for livestock transport, dairy cattle and goats and write a new one for fish

National codes of practice for livestock transport, dairy cattle, goats and fin fish can progress this year because of a $4.56 million funding announcement from the federal government.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced the funds Feb. 19, which will be provided to the Canadian Animal Health Coalition on behalf of the National Farm Animal Care Council.

The NFACC is the body responsible for developing and updating codes of practice for various livestock. It is now updating the code for animals during transport and has separate projects to update each of the codes for dairy and goats.

It is also undertaking development of a new code of practice for farmed fin fish.

NFACC chair Ryder Lee said the funding was “a large ask” but justified.

“This is a big important project to industry, provincial, federal governments and their regulatory arms so we’re not out of line in what we’re asking for,” said Lee.

The transport code will have to reflect new animal transport regulations announced Feb. 20 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, so Lee said members of the committee working on that particular code will have to review and digest the new legislation.

That may add to the complexity of a code that is already exceedingly complicated because it must address the many different types of livestock that are transported in Canada.

“It’s very different than a one-species on-farm production code,” said Lee.

Jackie Wepruck, general manager of the NFACC, said updates to the transport code will help inform producers about new regulations.

“Now we know what the realities are going to be around the regulatory framework, so the code can make sure that those who are transporting animals are as aware as they possibly can be about what they need to do,” she said.

Work on the transport code update started in November 2018 on the file and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2023.

The dairy code of practice is due for its 10-year update, so funds will allow that process to progress.

“It was the first one, the pilot of the whole farm animal care council process for doing a code,” said Lee.

“They had their five-year check-in, and now it’s been 10 years. Part of being leaders like they’ve been is that they’re first up to do the renewal.”

He said it will be interesting to see whether the update goes more swiftly than the initial code development.

“We’re learning new things about animal raising and care, but there’s a lot that’s time-tested and will stay the same, I’m sure, over time as all the codes are renewed.”

Wepruk said the 10-year update to the NFACC’s first code is cause for celebration.

“In days gone by, a code could be 30 years old and not be updated, so this is something to celebrate as well, that we actually have a code that’s 10 years old and industry is driving a new update, based on what the science is saying and based on new developments. I think it’s a good message. No one is sitting on their laurels.”

The updated dairy code process started in January and is expected to be complete in fall 2021. The goat code was developed in 2003 and is also expected to be updated by fall 2021.

New to the process is a code for the care and handling of farmed fin fish.

“It’s a new thing for the farm animal care council to be welcoming that work and engaging with that part of agriculture and aquaculture in Canada, but it’s making a level playing field for all the food that gets produced in Canada,” said Lee.

“Following a similar process to developing a code of practice is positive and reflects well on the farm animal care council’s process.”

The fin fish code is expected to be complete in summer 2021.

In a news release announcing the funds, MacAulay noted code benefits.

“This investment will ensure Canadian standards are in place and up-to-date to meet new and emerging consumer and market demands, while building consumer confidence about how farmed animals are raised and transported,” he said.

The livestock and aquaculture sectors generate more than $25 billion in farmgate receipts annually.

Funds for the code updates are part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

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