Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau has announced the investment of almost $3 million to three national organisations to enhance the country’s farm animal welfare and tracking technology.
The funding, which comes as part of the AgriAssurance Programme, will help organisations use new research to update industry standards for the care and handling of animals.
It will also help organisations assess and update current technology to develop a more efficient way to trace farm animals in the case of a disease outbreak.
The organisations receiving funding are Animal Health Canada, The Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, and The Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council.
Animal Health Canada will receive the highest sum – $2.9 million – to update national codes of practice for the livestock sector. This includes the code for the safe and humane transportation of live animals. The company has also developed a code of practice for the aquaculture sector for farmed salmon, trout and artic char.
Calls for stricter enforcement and controls over live animal transportation have increased over the past few years due to multiple incidents, such as the ship tragedy in Romania in 2019, where 14,000 sheep died after a transport vessel capsized in transit from the European country to Saudi Arabia. Around 15,000 sheep also died earlier this year in the Red Sea as they were transported from Sudan to Saudi Arabia.
The Canadian Cattle Identification Agency will get $52,140 to assess the use of ultra high frequency scanners which can read cattle identification tags. This technology could potentially allow farmers to trace the movement of animals quickly and contain them during a disease outbreak.
The Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council will receive up to $35,750 to ensure its animal welfare programme for hatcheries meets the requirements of the national Farm Animal Care Council’s Code of Practice. This will allow for improvement around the care and handling of hatching eggs, chickens and turkeys, says the government.
Marie-Claude Bibeau commented on the investment: “The dedication of Canadian producers to the welfare of their farm animals is what makes our livestock system world famous. By improving our standards and practices for care and tracking, consumers can be assured that our food system is meeting the highest standards.”
Dr Melanie Barham, Executive Director of Animal Health Canada added: “We’re pleased to continue working collaboratively with industry, government, veterinary, and animal welfare professionals to continue in developing the Codes of Practice through the National Farm Animal Care Council, a division of Animal Health Canada.
“Evidence-based co-development is a cornerstone of how the Codes are created and updated and we are excited to lead this project into its final year of funding.”
The AgriAssurance Programme is a $74 million federal initiative aiming to help the agricultural industry develop and adopt innovative systems, standards and tools that can improve the quality of and build public trust around Canada’s agriculture and agri-food products.
Canada isn’t the only country investing in a better food system. Find out how the Netherlands is working to tackle sustainability issues in its food industry in this Food Matters Live podcast episode: