Animal welfare group adopts new strategy

The Alberta Farm Animal Care Association hopes to enhance livestock industry’s reputation and increase membership

OLDS, Alta. — Alberta’s animal welfare organization is reshaping in a big way, aiming to improve livestock care in collaboration with other producer groups.

The Alberta Farm Animal Care Association recently released a new strategic plan, one that aims to enhance the livestock industry’s reputation, strengthen collaboration, and increase membership.

“It is an exciting time,” said Annemarie Pedersen, executive director of AFAC, in an interview after the organization’s annual general meeting last month in Olds.

“I really think this is a big shift for our board and it’s something they are very excited about trying. I think we’re all excited to see where this will lead.”

Pedersen said collaboration is key, particularly when it comes to defending the industry from misinformed animal rights activists.

“We need to be singing from the same song sheet, and we can’t be dishonest or massage the message,” she said.

“We all know what we are doing in the industry and what the gaps are. We have to talk about them honestly as a unit, providing less fuel for the fire for animal rights groups.”

She pointed to branding as an example. Some activists might not approve of the practice, she said, but it’s necessary when RCMP are investigating thefts or when the animals are separated.

“There is value to being honest and frank when we talk about what we do,” she said. “People will better understand it and know why it’s necessary.”

Collaboration with other groups also comes in handy when applying for grants, Pedersen added, explaining organizations can pool resources and avoid duplicating each other’s work.

“We do things better together when we share information,” she said. “It benefits everybody.”

The organization hopes to increase its membership, aiming for a 25 percent increase (roughly $10,000) in revenue in three years.

It hopes to register 50 percent of Alberta’s counties and 24 new producers and achieve 90 percent membership retention.

AFAC will soon close its office as part of its plan to streamline operations, moving to hold meetings virtually and in person.

Pedersen said the organization wants to ensure it is being efficient with membership dollars.

“Part of it is being mindful and respectful,” she said. “There was not a lot of foot traffic in the office and our staff members are spread across a 100-kilometre area.”

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