JEAN: Improving animal welfare in commercial farms

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You don’t have to be smart, wealthy, or even educated to treat a living creature with dignity.

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Of course, this applies to all living creatures on this planet, both humans and animals. We all deserve to be treated with humanity, fairness and dignity, no matter who or what we are or what purpose we serve.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an animal lover or not, a farmer, an ordinary citizen or an animal rights activist, many Canadians across the country were in disbelief last week when news of horrific animal abuse in British Columbia have been reported by media on television and online.

A farm in Abbotsford, British Columbia has had its dairy license suspended by the BC Milk Marketing Board and is under investigation by the BC SPCA into allegations of animal cruelty. This comes after the SPCA receives information regarding violations of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, and after an inspection of the farm.

Recent media reports show videos of the abuse that were captured by hidden cameras and were handed over anonymously as evidence. The BC SPCA stated that “there are certainly images out there that not only violate the animal cruelty prevention law, but could border on criminal actions,” as put it. Marcie Moriarty, BC SPCA Prevention and Enforcement Manager.

While this abusive behavior does not reflect all dairy producers or farms in Canada, it raises concerns and questions regarding the proper handling of farm animals as well as possible neglect and disregard for procedures, including the humane treatment of animals. animals in some large-scale commercial enterprises. farms like the one in British Columbia.

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There is no doubt that agriculture and animal husbandry, including dairy farming, play an important role in this country. In an October 2018 Maclean’s magazine article titled “The Truth About Dairy Farming in Canada,” journalist Kyle Edwards highlights important facts about the impact of dairy farming in Canada today.

He says: “It is one of the largest agricultural sectors in the country and contributes about $ 19.9 billion to the country’s GDP each year, according to the DFC, a figure that includes both farms and factories. transformation. There are 10,951 dairy farms (reported by the Canadian Dairy Information Center, a government-industry web resource) and just over 400 processors across the country, providing jobs for over 100,000 people. Almost a million dairy cows and around 450,000 heifers live on the farms.

Edwards also points out that “the number of Canadian dairy cows per farm has grown steadily over the years. In 2016, the average producer had 85 cows, an increase of 12% since 2011. ”

Since the dairy industry is so important to this country, its farmers and its citizens in so many ways, wouldn’t it be prudent to ensure the health, safety and humane treatment of all dairy cows. It goes without saying for all farm animals in Canada as well.

More needs to be done to protect innocent farm animals, especially those on large commercial farms. The BC SPCA is calling on the provincial government and the agriculture industry to ensure greater accountability for animal welfare on commercial farms, and this could include a third-party verification system such as surveillance cameras.

Talking about animal welfare on commercial farms and putting the issue in the spotlight is a step in the right direction, but one that will need a serious boost to move forward and do something about it. .

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