New Technology
Growing volumes of data are being collected throughout the food production chain. But although this data could present big opportunity for agriculture, it’s not being used to its full potential, according to the international sales director of a software company that specializes in the protein industry.     

August 12, 2016 - New-Life Mills, the animal feed division of Parrish & Heimbecker Limited and P & H Eastern Grain Division have pooled resources to launch the new Science of Sustainable Agriculture Expo at this year’s Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock, Ont. from Sept. 13th-15th 2016.

The exhibit will explore the elaborate connectedness of today’s agricultural world with sustainability in the forefront. The display at the Farm Show will be both educational for the inexperienced and eye-opening for the savvy farmer. 
 “It’s amazing how nearly every aspect of what we do in agriculture is connected on some level. We are among the most responsible of industries when it comes to ensuring nothing goes to waste,” says Sherry Slejska, marketing communications specialist, New-Life Mills.

“To my knowledge, this will be the largest initiative P&H has ever started to show the community how deeply involved we are in helping them produce crops, market crops, transport crops and feed livestock through a spider web of interactions between Ontario’s livestock and cash crop growers as well as many other commercial players. We are involved in almost every step from fertilizing the crop to grinding it into flour and opening up their marketing opportunities to the world. Most farmers don’t realize that,“ advises Jeff Jacques (Sales Mgr Crop Inputs and Agronomy, Parrish & Heimbecker, Eastern Grain Div.).

August 4, 2016 - Aviagen has added Matt Klassen to its customer service team to better care for customers in Canada. Klassen’s central location in Abbotsford, British Columbia, will enable him to work in close proximity to Aviagen customers west of Manitoba.

As an Aviagen Customer Support Representative, Klassen will work hand-in-hand with customers, helping them reach the maximum performance potential with Aviagen’s Ross® brand of breeding stock. He will benefit poultry farmers and producers with his expert guidance and advice in key areas necessary for flock success, such as best management practices, feed and nutrition, hatchery operations and biosecurity. His objective will be to help customers get the most from their flock operations by improving efficiencies and thus increasing productivity and performance.

Klassen has a well-rounded, 22-year background in the poultry industry. His career began in the early 1990s in Abbotsford, where he worked his way up from chick delivery and service to hatchery and feed mill management. In his most recent position at the British Columbia Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, he served as hatchery inspector, troubleshooting hatchery and production issues and advising the commission on policy changes regarding hatcheries. It was this breadth of experience, along with proven communication and relationship-building skills that landed him the position at Aviagen.

Klassen has joined Aviagen during a momentous landmark in the company’s history. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Aviagen Ross brand, which enjoys high popularity in Canada. It is this widespread popularity of Ross in Canada, according to Scott Gillingham, Aviagen Canada’s regional business consultant, that has spawned growth in the region and prompted the company to extend its arm of support. “Klassen was the ideal candidate to add value to our Canadian customer service team due to his established relationships and thorough understanding of the Canadian poultry market. His strong communication skills and collaborative personality will help maintain and deepen the trust and confidence customers have in the and collaborative personality will help maintain and deepen the trust and confidence customers have in the Ross team and Ross products.” 

 

August 2, 2016 - Attendee and exhibitor registration and housing for the 2017 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) is now open. IPPE has secured more than 1,060 exhibitors with more than 507,000 net square feet of exhibit space already booked. The Expo is expecting to attract more than 30,000 attendees through the collaboration of the three trade shows - International Poultry Expo, International Feed Expo and International Meat Expo - representing the entire chain of protein and feed production and processing. The event is sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY), the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). 

Register online and receive a discounted price of $50 (USD) through Dec. 31. Online registration is the only way to receive this discount. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the registration fee will increase to $100.

The IPPE website, www.ippexpo.org, offers easy navigation with access to important information including attendee and exhibitor registration, hotel availability and reservations and a schedule of 2017 educational seminars and activities offered during IPPE. The annual global feed, meat and poultry industry trade show is scheduled Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2017, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga., USA.

Resuming for 2017 is the popular “Members to Atlanta” (M2A) program, which waives the registration fee through Dec. 31, for attendees from member firms of all three associations engaged in the production of poultry, eggs and meat for consumption and feed and pet food manufacturers. The program is supported through the sponsorship of elite IPPE exhibitors. They include Arm & Hammer, Aviagen, Biomin, Ceva Animal Health, Cobb-Vantress, Diamond V, Elanco Animal Health, Heat and Control, Huvepharma, Incubation Systems, Inc., Jamesway Incubator Co., Kemin, Soybean Meal Information Center, Watt Global Media and Zoetis. 

The Expo will highlight the latest technology, equipment and services used in the production and processing of meat, poultry and animal feed. The week of Jan. 30 – Feb. 3, 2017, will feature dynamic education programs focused on current industry issues. The International Poultry Scientific Forum, Spanish Technical Seminar for Maximizing the Efficiency of the Poultry Industry, Pet Food Conference and the Environmental Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry will kick off the week’s education programs. Several Tech Talks programs will also be offered on Tuesday and Wednesday. In addition, the Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit, Worker Safety Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry, Poultry Market Intelligence Forum and the International Rendering Symposium education programs will return for 2017.

The 2017 IPPE will also feature several new educational programs including important sessions on food safety, consumer trends and international trade. The following programs are new for 2017: Worker Safety Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry; Listeria monocytogenes Prevention & Control Workshop; Meat Quality Workshop: Know Your Muscle, Know Your Meat; FSMA Hazard Analysis Training; Pork 101; Family Businesses Strategies for Success; Beef 101; Feed Production Education Program; U.S. Employment Law Regulatory Update; Meat Industry Regulatory Update and Compliance Session; Setting Up for Success: Processed Meat Product Introductions; Get the Facts with Meat Mythcrushers; Whole Genome Sequencing 101; Understanding and Achieving Operational Excellence; and Toxic Release Inventory Reporting Guidance Workshop.

For more information about the 2017 IPPE, visit www.ippexpo.org

 

July 26, 2016 - The Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) has released its 2016 Conference Report (the Report) that summarizes the need for the agricultural sector to better disseminate research results to producers, farmers, industry, academia, consumers and among the research community.  A number of findings and recommendations are included in the Report.

One key finding is that research dissemination has often been neglected in past policy development or is left until the end of the project cycle, which needs to change in order to increase stakeholder engagement and allow for greater impact of results.  Another is that the sector needs to find new ways to incent and support knowledge transfer activities.

“Last year, we broke new ground by releasing Canada’s first-ever agricultural research policy, a long-standing objective for the sector and for AIC," says Serge Buy, CEO for AIC.  This year, we are continuing our work by raising awareness of the need to better communicate and disseminate agricultural research.  We need to collectively ensure that game-changing results have the impact that they deserve in Canada and internationally.”

The Report also discusses the role that Intellectual Property (IP) has to play in the dissemination of research outcomes.  Although the commercialization of research results can certainly lead to a positive rate of return on investment, IP management is often debated or misunderstood and not recognized as a potential dissemination route for Canadian innovations.

The Report focuses on three key themes:

  • Dissemination Strategies and Participation Channels for Agricultural Research
  • Knowledge Transfer (KT) and Extension
  • IP Protection, Cooperation and Collaboration

The Report is a summary of the input gathered in policy discussions with researchers, government officials and other industry stakeholders at the annual AIC Conference that took place in April 2016.

A subsequent, in-depth Best Practices Report for Research Dissemination that highlights a number of best practices from across the sector will be released by AIC in late Summer 2016.

To view the 2016 Conference Report click here.

Highlights of the report

“A scientific breakthrough that could dramatically change how farmers harvest, or manufacturers prepare a certain product, is discovered in a lab.  How do we get this vital information from the research to benefit the end user?” – Theme 1, Page 8

“…farming has become an increasingly complex undertaking. The sector must find ways to unpack the complexity and tell stories in clear, uncomplicated ways to deliver strong, but accurate messages using adequate channels.” – Theme 1, Page 10

“The inclusion of funding for KT and extension activities in the next Federal-Provincial-Territorial Policy Framework…and enhanced collaboration across the sector can enable the environment needed to implement new participatory research methods and enable effective knowledge transfer.” – Theme 2, Page 15

“Intellectual property rights (IPR) affect nearly every part of the research process from initial development to the sharing of results with other researchers.  It is also an area of great debate and misunderstanding not only in agricultural research but also in other areas of scientific research.” – Theme 3, Page 19

“Stronger IP agreements and partnerships can also help Canadian agricultural research achieve a competitive advantage at the international level.” – Theme 3, Page 20

 

Canada now has an official day to celebrate agriculture - February 16, 2017.   

Canada’s Agriculture Day is a “time to celebrate and draw a closer connection between Canadians, our food and the people who produce it,” according to its creator, Agriculture More than Ever

The day marks the first time the industry has dedicated a day to celebrating agriculture and the people in the industry.  It was announced on June 1, the final day of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) Public Trust Summit in Ottawa.

Candace Hill, manager of Agriculture More Than Ever, said in a release Canada’s Agriculture Day complements the industry-led initiative that has attracted more than 470 partner organizations and 2,100 individuals committed to creating positive perceptions of agriculture. Agriculture More Than Ever’s goal is to encourage those involved in agriculture to speak up and speak positively about the industry.

“It’s all about showing our love, pride and passion for an industry that puts food on our tables,” Hill says. “We want to give everyone the opportunity to have a voice in the conversation and celebrate the industry that feeds the world.”

“We all eat food yet many people don’t automatically make the connection between what’s on their plate and the commitment and care that goes into raising livestock, growing crops or processing food,” says Crystal Mackay, CEO of Farm & Food Care Canada, a national charity committed to building public trust and confidence in food and farming in Canada.

“Every link in the food production chain – from the farm to the grocery store and restaurant – plays a vital role in bringing food to your table every day,” says Mackay, whose group organized the summit. “Canada’s Agriculture Day is an opportunity to get involved, celebrate and be a part of the conversation about food and farming.”

Hill encourages the industry, organizations and individuals to come up with their own ideas and activities to promote and celebrate Canadian agriculture. Resources and ideas on how individuals and organizations can do that are available on the Canada’s Agriculture Day website, www.Agday.ca

It’s a much-needed initiative, particularly given the lack of understanding by consumers on how their food is produced.  At the summit, CCFI released the results of a survey that showed 93 per cent of Canadians say they know little or nothing about farming.  

That’s a staggering statistic, but there is some hope — the research also showed that two-thirds of Canadians want to know more about Canada’s food system and where there food comes from.  “We see a big opportunity ahead of us,” Mackay said in a release.  “The time is now to open up more dialogue and increase opportunities for credible conversations about our food in Canada.”

She says the new CCFI will serve as a “critical hub to help the Canadian food system better understand the public’s questions and concerns and determine how to bridge the gap that currently exists between farm gates and dinner plates.”

Farmers can also play a part.  Although I’ve heard numerous farmers say they are not comfortable being a public relations spokesperson for their respective industries, opportunities do exist for “agvocacy” that allow a person to stay within his or her comfort zone.  Check out the resources available at www.Agday.ca and visit www.foodintegrity.ca for more information on the CCFI and the key findings from the Canadian Public Trust research – it’s sure to inspire. 

 

 

 

 

June 27, 2016 - Perdue Foods announced June 27 a four-part a plan that it feels will accelerate its progress in animal care, strengthen relationships with farmers, build trust with multiple stakeholder groups and create an animal care culture for continued improvement.

Titled 2016 and Beyond: Next Generation of Perdue Commitments to Animal Care, the plan was developed with input from stakeholders such as farmers, academics and leaders of animal advocate organizations who were invited by Perdue to help shape this progressive animal care plan that sets new industry standards.

“As we continue to learn about innovative and better ways to raise animals through our No Antibiotics Ever journey and our experience in raising organic chickens, we are adopting a four-part plan which will result in changing how we raise chickens,” said Chairman Jim Perdue. “Transparency is very important to Perdue consumers, who are interested knowing how we raise, care for and harvest our chickens. Our vision is to be the most trusted name in food and agricultural products and animal care is a big part of that journey.”

“Poultry production as a whole has made great progress in keeping chickens healthy; however, we can improve by implementing policies that go beyond meeting chickens’ basic needs.  We want to create an environment where chickens can express normal behaviors,” said Bruce Stewart-Brown, DVM, Perdue’s senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production. “Over the past five years, we’ve been exposed to and learned some husbandry techniques associated with organic production.  And, through the brands that have recently joined our company, we’ve been able to learn from some of the pioneers of a more holistic approach to animal well-being. When we talked to farmers they responded very positively to these improved husbandry methods.  In addition, we hear from consumers that how animals raised for food are treated is important to them.” 

The first major company to commit to implementing such progressive practices in raising and harvesting animals system-wide, Perdue’s Commitments to Animal Care goes well beyond most other companies’ commitments to encompass not only the animals but the people who care for and handle them, as well as stakeholders who have an interest in this area.

Perdue’s four Commitments to Animal Care

The Perdue Commitments to Animal Care summarizes current progress and details next generation initiatives for each part of the plan. Perdue is putting program measurements in place, including audits by third parties, and will release an annual report announcing its progress in reaching specific goals. 

Specifically the four-part plan commits to:

The wants and needs of the animals

Based on The Five Freedoms, an internationally recognized standard for animal husbandry, Perdue’s commitment document lays out where the company is today on each of the five aspects as well as future goals. For instance, the majority of chickens today are raised in fully enclosed barns without natural light.  Perdue is committed to retrofitting 200 chicken houses with windows by the end of 2016 to compare bird health and activity to enclosed housing.   

The farmers that raise the chickens

Appreciating that chickens spend most of their time in the care of farmers, the plan stresses improved relationships with farmers.  This includes creating an open dialogue about best practices in animal care, considering the farmer’s well-being and connecting animal care to pay and incentives. 

Openness, transparency and trust

The plan also calls for Perdue to be open to criticism of its current policies and procedures when deserved, share information about animal care initiatives, and proactively engage with a wide variety of animal welfare stakeholders, including advocates, academics and animal care experts. 

A journey of continuous improvement

The fourth part of the plan commits to ongoing learning and advancements in the company’s animal care programs to ensure the health and well-being of its birds through next-generation initiatives. This commitment will be driven by Perdue’s active Animal Care Council, which has been in place for more than 15 years.  

“Our four commitments have one goal and that is continued improvement in animal care. We know we’re not where we want to be yet but we want to allow others to take the journey with us,” said Stewart-Brown.

“From lessons learned from organic chicken houses, it’s clear that there can be a general health benefit with increased activity—and that is a big focus of our plan.  Short-term goals that support increased activity include window installations in 200 existing poultry houses by the end of 2016 and studying the role of enrichments such as perches and bales of hay to encourage activity.  Our goal is to double the activity of our chickens in the next three years.”

 

June 29, 2016 - Brome Lake Ducks is investing $30 million into the construction of a new hatchery and livestock building in the region of Brome Lake, Quebec.  The company has acquired the former Viande Laroche beef plant, located in the Eastern Township municipality of Asbestos that it plans to convert into a 51,000 square foot processing plant.  The expansion project will allow the company to double its annual production of Peking ducks and will create more than 150 new jobs over the next few years.

Its output has increased eightfold, from 500,000 birds in 1990 to an yearly production that surpasses two million ducks which are shipped to customers from Quebec, Canada, Asia, South America and the United States.

This acquisition is the result of a close collaboration between Brome Lake Ducks, Fond de diversification économique de la MRC des Sources, Investissement Québec and Desjardins.

 

May 26, 2016- Aviagen has launched an updated version of its global Parent Stock (PS) Nutrition Specifications for its Arbor Acres, Indian River and Ross brands. 

The specifications are consistently reviewed by the Aviagen Global Nutrition Team and reflect ongoing improvements in bird performance as well as the latest available research. The new versions have been updated with a continued focus on body weight and egg weight control, production persistency, better fertility and hatchability to ensure that the bird’s needs are met at every age.

The new specifications introduce a breeder three diet to keep better control of body weight and egg weight after 50 weeks. In addition, an improved amino acids profile to help support feathering and intestinal health has been added. Recommendations for two, three and four-stage rearing programs are now included, reflecting the global nature of the specifications and providing farmers with a greater choice of appropriate diets for their local conditions.

“In order to continue to provide our customers with the most accurate nutrition of our parent stock products, our team is pleased to announce the release of this new version of the Parent Stock Nutrition Specifications,” commented Alex Corzo, head of the Global Nutrition Team. “We believe the updated nutrient values provided in the new recommendations are finely tuned to satisfy the bird’s current needs for maintenance, growth and production of eggs”.

 

May 19, 2016 - Blake Copeland is used to monitoring the power play as an on-ice official in the Western Hockey League. 

Now he is gearing up to focus on "The Power of 5" -- the Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. (CBS Inc.) feed technology lineup -- as a new on-farm sales representative for the Calgary, Alberta, based company. 

Owen Jones, president of CBS Inc. says Copeland will initially focus on the company’s Power of 5 portfolio in Western Canada and will also be increasingly involved in the company’s broader programs. 

Copeland grew up in Calgary and spent many summers of his youth at his grandparents’ farm near Saskatoon. In school he was naturally drawn to the sciences and this continued following high school when he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in biology, at the University of Victoria. 

For three summers during his university years Copeland returned to Calgary to work as a summer student with CBS Inc., spending the bulk of this time working in the laboratory and assisting with production, learning the CBS Inc. products and their science basis from the ground up. He was hired full-time with CBS Inc. following completion of his degree, leading up to this new appointment as sales representative.   

Copeland has apprenticed for the sales role since last fall with Mark Peters, CBS Inc. director of sales and marketing as well as industry veteran Doug Richards, working with the broader CBS Inc. team led by Jones.

Copeland's second career as a hockey official took off in the university years as he rose from Junior B to Junior A and finally the western league. He will continue to moonlight on the ice periodically while working for CBS Inc. "It's something I enjoy doing and CBS has been good enough to allow me the flexibility to keep that up," says Copeland. The hockey connection doesn’t hurt to add some life to the business conversations, he acknowledges. "As officials, I often say we have the best seat in the house. There is usually something interesting to talk about. For sure, farmers around here like talking hockey and I’m happy to do that." 

May 18, 2016 - The Competition Bureau has announced that it will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Montreal-based St-Hubert restaurants by food-service operator Cara Operations Limited of Vaughan, Ontario.

During its review of the proposed transaction, the Bureau determined that a substantial lessening or prevention of competition would be unlikely. Among other factors, the Bureau identified numerous other restaurants that compete for similar customers in each local market where the parties compete, therefore ensuring effective competition in each local market where there is overlap between the parties' restaurant sites. Consequently, the Bureau issued a No Action Letter to Cara.

Under the Competition Act, the Bureau has a mandate to review mergers to determine whether they are likely to result in a substantial lessening or prevention of competition.  In reviewing mergers, the Bureau considers many different elements, including the level of economic concentration in the relevant industry and the merging parties' market shares.

Quick Facts

  • Cara Operations Limited is proposing to acquire 2312-2484 Quebec Inc., which operates St-Hubert restaurants as well as two food manufacturing plants and two distribution centres in Quebec.
  • Cara Operations Limited owns several Canadian restaurant brands, including Swiss Chalet, Harvey's, Montana's, Milestones, East Side Mario's, Kelsey's, New York Fries, Prime Pubs, Bier Markt and Landing Group restaurants.
  • A No Action Letter (NAL) confirms that the Bureau has reviewed a specific proposed transaction and concluded that it will not, at this time, challenge the proposed transaction before the Competition Tribunal under the merger provisions of the Competition Act.


The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.

 

April 5, 2016 - Hendrix Genetics has concluded its agreement to purchase 100 per cent of turkey distributor Coolen Hatchery, the largest turkey hatchery in the Netherlands. This announcement follows a press release of October 26, 2015, in which Hendrix Genetics announced it would take a controlling interest in Coolen. 

Henk Coolen will continue on with Hendrix Genetics for the coming years in support of Hendrix Genetics Turkeys activities in the Netherlands.  Future plans for the hatchery include the development of the traditional and bronze turkey markets.

Dave Libertini, Managing Director of Hendrix Genetics Turkeys Business Unit remarked “We are pleased with the transition underway and the many advantages this acquisition will bring for customers, employees and our company, this is a logical next step.  The addition of the Coolen hatchery strengthens our global network of turkey distribution.”

 “The Hendrix Genetics team has been very supportive and I am confident that my decision to work with Hendrix Genetics is the best for the Coolen Hatchery, our employees and customers.  I know our clients are in good hands.” said Henk Coolen, Managing Director, Coolen Hatchery.

Antoon van den Berg, CEO of Hendrix Genetics, commented “Our organization is committed to the success of our clients around the world.  This includes access to our genetics and the after sales support to help them reach the full genetic potential. This acquisition allows us to continue to serve the important grower base in the Netherlands.”

 

 

 

  

 

 

Mar. 15, 2016, Ottawa, ON - Annual farm cash receipt losses to Canadian producers due to job vacancies are $1.5 B or three per cent of the industry's total value in sales and production.

This is a key finding of newly released Labour Market Information (LMI) research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) during the 'Growing the AgriWorkforce Summit' in Winnipeg. The LMI research also revealed that primary agriculture still has the highest industry job vacancy rate at 7 per cent. The research was based on 2014 figures.

"The situation is critical now and will only get worse unless it is effectively addressed," explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, CAHRC Executive Director. "The Council has established the necessary collaborative channels with government and industry and now we need to continue to move forward to find solutions."

The current gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce is 59,000 and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. In response, industry efforts have been encouraging young people and workers from other sectors to get into agriculture as a career. Despite extensive efforts gaps still exist and there still will be a large void in the future.

Labour shortages create risks to farmers who can only hope they will have the same or greater access to both domestic and foreign workers in the future as they do now. The LMI study examined only primary production; agri-food industries such as food and beverage processors or input suppliers, which have additional labour demands, were not considered in the research. However, labour shortages affect both primary producers and food processors in Canada.

Effects of the projected gap in the agricultural workforce could extend beyond the farms and fields and into Canadian homes. Unfilled jobs in Canadian food processing plants force Canadian foods to be processed outside of Canada in places like the United States and Mexico where there are workers. This means Canada must import the food back in after processing, which adds to food costs for Canadians. These two factors together could have a significant impact on Canada's ability to produce and process its own food.

The research indicates that the worker shortage is critical today and will be even more so ten years from now, with dire consequences for business viability, industry sustainability and future growth. Access to less labour for Canadian farmers now and into the future will affect food security for Canadian consumers and will also affect export potential of Canada's entire agri-food industry.

The LMI research was derived from surveys, interviews and focus groups with 1034 representatives of Canadian agricultural organizations, employees, and employers – 813 of whom were primary producers.

More information on this and other LMI results can be found at www.cahrc-ccrha.ca. The LMI research was funded by the Government of Canada's Sectoral Initiatives Program.

 

Should a producer find him or herself facing avian influenza or another catastrophic disease event, Ontario turkey producer Bob McCauley has the following advice to share: “keep track of everything.”

McCauley manages the turkey farm that was the first to be infected with avian influenza (AI) in southwestern Ontario last spring. Speaking at a Poultry Industry Council (PIC) Producer Update in February, McCauley was candid about how stressful the experience of dealing with AI was, and the importance of keeping record of everyone he talked to, what they talked about and next steps. When under such stress, it’s not easy to keep track of who said what – and when your livelihood is at stake, you want to make sure everyone is held accountable and stay in control of your own operation.

Despite having robust biosecurity plans for poultry facilities in place, unfortunately avian influenza can still find its way into a barn (see comments from Jim Dean, CEO of Center Fresh Group, on page 37). While good biosecurity practices focus on keeping a pathogen such as AI out of a barn, since the AI outbreak in British Columbia in 2004, much work has been done in Canada to understand how to minimize its spread to other facilities once a pathogen does get into a barn. Just as McCauley wanted to keep track of what was going on at his farm during AI recovery, it’s crucial that industry track everything and everyone that had been on his farm in the days before his birds showed symptoms.

Service providers, suppliers and other vehicles moving from farm to farm pose a significant risk of disease spread. This has been looked at extensively and much work has been done to understand and mitigate this risk. At the same PIC Producer Update meeting in February, Tom Baker, incident commander of the Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC), said that connectedness through people, equipment and service providers caused avian influenza to spread rapidly in the U.S. last year, and was “much more significant than airborne transmission.”

But performing a traceback to determine which farms may be at risk from contact through a shared provider is not instantaneous. The Canadian poultry industry as a whole has gotten much better at reducing the time required to perform such a traceback. This can be seen in the reduced number of farms infected in B.C. in 2014 versus 2004, and the fact that AI was limited to three premises in Ontario in 2015.  

While executive director of the PIC, Tim Nelson wanted to find a more immediate solution. After several years of working with a technology partner, Nelson, now CEO of the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC), is seeing his vision become reality. The “Be Seen Be Safe” app (see full story on page 10) acts as a virtual logbook, recording the movement of who comes on and off a farm and logging the information in a central database. During an emergency, Be Seen Be Safe can quickly analyze visitor information obtained from an infected property and plot the movement of visitors to that property throughout its infectious period, where they came from and where they went in order to identify potentially infected secondary properties.  

While the app is not meant to replace good biosecurity practices on-farm, it offers industry the potential to keep AI incidents rapidly contained so that, hopefully, disease incidents can be kept to one or two farms and the industry can get back to business sooner.

 

The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) recently issued its annual report on how food companies around the world are addressing food animal issues. If you’re wondering if the food system is paying attention, the foreword in the fourth-annual report is authored by Donnie Smith, president and CEO at Tyson Foods.

Ninety of the world’s leading food firms, including 23 from the U.S., were graded on everything from management to transparency and grouped into six tiers based on their scores. There were no U.S. companies in the top tier. McDonald’s and Unilever (Hellman’s, Ben and Jerry’s) made the second-highest group. In its coverage of the report, UK-based Farmers Weekly reports six of the top 11 companies are British.

INVESTOR TARGET
In the article The Golden Arches Earn High Marks on New Animal-Welfare Report at TakePart.com, food writer Willy Blackmore notes, “The report is not aimed at consumers or activists, but rather is designed for investors and the industry itself.”

Among the three organizations supporting the annual report is global private equity firm Coller Capital. Its founder, Jeremy Coller, is on a mission to “end factory farming within the next 40 years.” Says Coller, “Like the businesses they back, investors have an obligation to nurture the world they live in. Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG, policies are rapidly becoming a vital part of investors’ toolkits. ESG is the investment community’s equivalent to corporate social responsibility… A very important part of this is animal welfare.”

In the foreword of the BBFAW report, Tyson’s Smith says, “As farm animal welfare moves up the business agenda and companies invest more resources in it, those who are serious about improvement need to ask themselves three questions: Are we curious — open-minded enough — to find better ways? Can we accept that we may not have all the answers ourselves? Are we telling our story openly, honestly and understandably?”

Most people have no problem consuming food from animals but they want to know they’re being treated right. However, too many consumers have doubts that animals on today’s farms are handled with care.

In CFI’s consumer trust research, more than half the respondents in a nationwide survey of 2000 people strongly agreed with the statement, “If farm animals are treated decently and humanely, I have no problem consuming meat, milk and eggs.” Problem is, only one in four strongly agreed that, “U.S. meat is derived from humanely treated animals.”

Today’s food producers need to embrace this skepticism and ramp up engagement and communication to show consumers that today’s farmers are committed to doing the right thing when it comes to animal well-being. CFI’s latest study proves that improved transparency increases consumer trust.

The study focused on six areas important to consumers — treatment of animals raised for food among them. Survey respondents said they hold food companies most responsible for demonstrating transparency on animal welfare. They said they want results of third-party audits on animal care shared on company websites. They also want the opportunity to ask questions via company websites and answers provided in easy-to-understand language.

Consumers inherently trust farmers because they believe they share their values. Unfortunately, consumers aren’t sure today’s agriculture still qualifies as farming. Generational and geographic distance between farmers and consumers, technological advances in farming, and changes in farm size and structure have consumers questioning where their food comes from and how it is produced.

As we increase both the distance most consumers have from food production and the level of technology used, the food system must dramatically improve its ability and commitment to build trust. Everyone in the food system needs to embrace consumer skepticism and increase their commitment to transparency. People need to take up the cause within their organizations and become champions for greater transparency, realizing it will ultimately enhance consumer trust.


Reprinted with permission from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).  CFI’s vision is to lead the public discussion to build trust in today’s food system and facilitate dialogue with the food system to create better alignment with consumer expectations. For more information, visit: www.foodintegrity.org

 

 

 

 

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