The National Farm Animal Care Council received more than 5,000 completed surveys
By Diego Flammini
Canadians have provided feedback on the current Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle.
From Nov. 29, 2021, to Feb. 15, 2022, people had the opportunity to submit suggestions and concerns related to the document.
The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and Dairy Farmers of Canada released an updated version of the Code in November 2021 after beginning the process in January 2019.
The new finalized document will update the Code from 2009.
This comment period received the most of any others in the past, said Jackie Wepruk, NFACC’s general manager.
“We had record high participation in the comment period for the draft dairy code,” she told Farms.com. “A total of 5,884 respondents completed a submission on the code. It’s the highest number ever received on a code of practice.”
More dairy farmers than ever participated in the comment period.
Forty per cent of respondents identified themselves as dairy farmers.
This shows how much dairy producers care about the animals they raise, Werpuk said.
“We know how busy dairy farmers are looking after their animals,” she said. “So to have (2,353) responses from dairy farmers themselves is fantastic and shows they are engaged and involved because these codes matter to them and their livestock.”
About 31 per cent of respondents identified themselves as citizens or animal welfare advocates. Another 27 per cent identified as consumers.
Within the more than 5,800 survey submissions, people who took the time to provide comments were able to do so on 58 different sections of the code itself.
“That added up to 45,407 actual comments that the Code Development Committee will be reviewing,” Wepruk said.
The Code Development Committee is made up of representatives from organizations like Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
The committee’s job is to analyze the comments and come up with a consensus about the updated code. Once that’s done, the dairy code will be considered finalized.
With that volume of individual comments, NFACC received submissions of different tones.
“We got everything from people supporting the code as is, to further changes need to be made, to warnings we may be going too fast, to, unfortunately, very harsh comments about agriculture and dairy farming,” Wepruk said.
The hope is the committee can do this before the end of the year, Wepruk said.
“We have a team of contractors who are collating the comments and organizing them into various categories so the committee can compare comments that are similar,” she said. “Virtual meetings have already been scheduled throughout March and into June and we don’t want to rush the process.
“It all depends on the conversations the code development committee is having. These are not easy conversations and so we want to give them as much time as they need to come to a consensus.”