US Animal Welfare Standards Impact on Canada Uncertain
Farmscape for August 12, 2002 (Episode 1042)
An animal welfare expert with the University of British Columbia says it remains to be seen how new animal welfare standards being adopted in the United States will impact the Canadian livestock industry.
In June the US based Food Marketing Institute and National Council of Chain Restaurants released their first set of guidelines for the treatment and handling of animals.
The new standards, which include a system of on farm audits, are designed to assure the public that animals used for food are raised under humane conditions.
Animal Welfare Professor Dr. David Fraser, who participated in the process as an advisor, says although the guidelines are quite similar to Canadian codes of practice there are still many unknowns when it comes to compliance.
Clip-Dr. David Fraser-University of British Columbia
First of all, although these industry associations are creating and approving the standards, it's up to the individual member companies to decide whether to adopt them or not.
Now some of the big players have already said they will adopt them, obviously Burger King, McDonald's on the chain restaurant side, Safeway in the US on the grocery side.
However, we don't yet know exactly which of their member companies will adopt standards.
We don't know which of those will be active in Canada.
We don't know whether the Canadian part of those organizations will accept a kind of slightly different made in Canada standard or will insist on the exact standards set by the US industry groups.
There's a lot of unknowns here in how this will actually affect Canadian production.
Dr. Fraser says the auditing component will be a new element for Canadian agriculture.
He suggests Canadian livestock producers should be thinking strongly and clearly in terms of how to demonstrate to corporate customers and to the public that the codes of practice they espouse are being followed.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
*Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council