Communicating Animal Welfare Standards Identified as Key Challenge
Farmscape for April 21, 2004 (Episode 1498)
A University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Professor says the challenge in developing animal welfare standards is to find the right balance and communicate it to the consumer.
Auditable animal welfare programs, intended to address consumer questions about how animals are raised, are under development in both Canada and the United States.
Dr. David Fraser says one of the challenges is to identify what these standards should contain to be workable, good for the animals and responsive to the market and another is to communicate those standards to the public.
Clip-Dr. David Fraser-University of British Columbia
What we're starting to see world wide is a set of quite different standards, all claiming to be animal welfare standards but making quite different requirements.
One of these is the fairly basic standards like the Canadian codes of practice that set space requirements for the major production systems, like cages for laying hens.
At the other extreme we're seeing things like free range and organic standards that ban cages altogether.
In between those two we're seeing the emerging standards of the European Union that approve of cages but require some natural elements to be included in the cages like a nest box where the hens can retreat to lay an egg.
There's a lot of scope here for the public to simply become confused and disillusioned when they see three things, all different standards, all claiming to be animal welfare standards but making very different requirements.
There's going to need to be some very clear communication so that this program doesn't just confuse the public.
Dr. Fraser says, from his personal involvement on Canadian farms, many people are using very high standards of animal welfare.
He says that isn't the issue...the issue is how to demonstrate that.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
*Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council