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CONCERTED EFFORTS, SUPPORTED BY SCIENCE

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) ensures that codes of practice exist for most farm animals in Canada. Codes of practice are reviewed every five years and updated at least every 10 years. Since the most recent version of our code for dairy cattle dates back to 2009, the review work began in 2019. A development committee, made up different experts from various backgrounds, completes the review: Producers, veterinarians, processors, researchers, specialists and a national association for the protection of animals were mandated to perform this review.

Codes of practice provide essential advice on the care and handling of farm animals. They include requirements for practices that are deemed acceptable and indicate which practices are not acceptable. The Code provides all guidelines for the main activities involved in caring for dairy cattle, such as the housing conditions, feed, management, preparation for transportation, euthanasia and other practices involved in animal farming. This document is the basis for all requirements in the animal module of our proAction program and a reference for the Animal Welfare and Safety Act of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec.

As you know, a 60-day public consultation was held in December 2021 to gather comments from members of the public. Thousands of dairy producers, most of whom were from Quebec, participated in this consultation. We shared our views so that our expertise would be heard and recognized.

This update is the result of a serious and rigorous process. It is important to know that the work was done transparently and conjointly between the various stakeholders. Each of the changes made in the Code is supported by recent scientific data and encourages producers to adopt measures that improve animal welfare and make them more aware of best practices. We have been given a number of tools to properly understand the main changes and requirements, which will come into effect, unless otherwise indicated, on April 1, 2024. Les Producteurs de lait du Québec gave a webinar on April 3. For those of you who were unable to attend it live, you can still watch a recorded version on the U+ platform of the Union des producteurs agricoles. I also invite you to read pages 3 and 4 of this issue. It is the first article of a series that will be dedicated to the Code’s new requirements.

Our animals’ welfare is a daily concern for agricultural producers. We have long made efforts to keep our cows comfortable, such as by giving them more space, better ventilation, rations adapted to their needs, and ample bedding, mats or mattresses, to name but a few. Incidentally, many dairy farms already satisfy the new Code’s requirements or are quite close to doing so. Others, however, may have to make greater changes and invest money on them. For that reason, producers will have up to eight years to make changes that require larger investments.1 The team at Les Producteurs de lait du Québec is already making sustained efforts to ensure that farm service providers are perfectly knowledgeable of the changes and able to guide producers through this transition. The expertise is available, so feel free to use it.

The Code is changing, society is changing, consumers are taking increasing interest in the products they consume and our enterprises are adapting by choosing to follow current best practices. It is up to you to keep going above and beyond these changes and be present so that our industry develops and continues to meet the highest standards of health, comfort and wellbeing for our animals. But our governments must also stand up for reciprocity when it comes to the standards on imported products and support the enterprises that will need them, all in an effort to keep our regions dynamic and our family farms sustainable.

Source : Lait Org

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