Sustainability
Health leaders around the world are using words like “historical” and “possible turning point” to describe a declaration passed by the UN General Assembly aiming to slow down the spread of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. The declaration requires countries to come up with a two-year plan to protect the potency of antibiotics. Countries also need to create ways to monitor the use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, start curbing that use and begin developing new antibiotics that work.
Published in Health
According to Statistics Canada (StatsCan), over the last several decades, the per capita consumption of animal protein in Canada has changed dramatically. Figure 1 shows the consumption of three different meats from 1980 to 2014.
Published in Meat - Broilers
Jan. 19, 2017 - The Canadian veterinary profession has taken a significant step forward with the creation of a national framework (the Framework) to address its responsibilities under new Federal Government regulations for increased veterinary oversight of antimicrobials, which are expected to be implemented by the end of 2017.
 
The Framework, “Veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use – A Pan-Canadian framework for professional standards for veterinarians,” was developed by the veterinary pharmaceutical stewardship advisory group of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) in collaboration with the Canadian Council of Veterinary Registrars (CCVR).
 
It provides a template of professional standards, which may be used by provincial and territorial veterinary regulatory (licensing) bodies when developing their own regulations, guidelines, or bylaws relating to veterinarians’ professional responsibilities in providing oversight of veterinary antimicrobial use.
 
“Canadian veterinarians have a national and international responsibility to protect public health by contributing to the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” says Dr. Troy Bourque, CVMA president. “By working towards harmonizing veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in Canada, we are optimizing our stewardship practices in animal and public health, maintaining access to and effectiveness of antimicrobials for the treatment and prevention of disease in animals and upholding to the integrity of the veterinary profession.”
 
The Framework describes the professional obligations for veterinarians as ‘suggested standards,’ provides a definition of the Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR), and describes the professional obligations to be met by veterinarians when prescribing an antimicrobial drug.
 
In addition, the Framework makes several recommendations on outstanding issues, including surveillance of antimicrobial use and distribution, and continuing education opportunities for veterinary professionals on antimicrobial stewardship.
 
The veterinary profession in Canada will continue to be engaged in discussions on the oversight of the use of veterinary antimicrobials at provincial and national levels.
 
The Framework was developed after consultation with key stakeholders from the veterinary and human health communities, producer groups, and regulators from across Canada.
 
The framework document has been completed and distributed to all regulatory bodies and CVMA members. It is available for download from the CVMA website at www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/pan-canadian-framework .
Published in Business & Policy
Donald Shaver has been retired from poultry breeding since 1986, but this hasn’t diminished his passion for feeding a hungry world and promoting his vision for accomplishing it.

Shaver recently gave a keynote presentation to the 11th International Symposium on Avian Endocrinology, held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Entitled “Mandating a sustainable economy before it’s too late”, the presentation dealt with a number of current issues critical to, in Shaver’s view, the future of humanity, as we know it.

For sustainable development, he used the United Nations 1987 definition that it “is attained when current generations could meet their needs without undermining or destroying future generations’ chances of having their needs met”.

Of course, much has changed since 1987, especially recognition of the twin challenges of climate change and the associated problem of finite water resources.

“There isn’t an alternative presently known to man that will safeguard the well-being of our grandchildren, short of immediate, co-ordinated reductions in CO2 emissions to levels that will assure human survival,” Shaver said, with regard to global warming and CO2 emissions.  “The economics of the so-called market place alone, will not be able to accomplish this, for it is a truly Churchillian undertaking.”   The consequences of existing climate change in terms of loss of ice cover and rising sea levels, increasingly volatile weather phenomena, etc. are well known.

Many of these factors are already influencing the world’s food supply.  But it is not just climate change that is affecting food security.  Shaver quoted Mahatma Gandhi (who died in 1948) as saying that “the earth provides enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed”.   The West’s model for food production, Shaver stated, will fail to feed the world if adapted globally, because it destroys resources and many of the traditional farmers whose knowledge is so essential to future food security.

One of the main thrusts of the presentation was the need for governments to restore the priority of food production and agriculture in the scientific world. Apart from those involved in space or defense programs, scientists’ funding is unreliable and short term. The need for worldwide food security is paramount.  And the industrial systems now operating in the West are not only largely unsustainable in their present form, they are unsuited for exporting to Africa and other less-developed food systems. This is particularly so for animal systems which, except for ruminants, compete with the human population for food resources.

Effects of climate change
Climate change is already reducing crop yields.  Research has shown that, while corn yields in France rose by 60 per cent between 1960 and 2000 (the green revolution), they were flat for the next decade. They are predicted to fall by 12 per cent over the next twenty years.  Wheat and soya yields showed a similar pattern and are expected to fall by up to 20 per cent. In the U.S. Midwest, higher temperatures are expected to lower crop yields by up to 63 per cent by the end of this century.  Similar reductions may be expected in the Canadian prairies, and, as the world’s sixth largest agricultural economy, this can be predicted to significantly affect the world’s food supply.

The inequity in food distribution is well known.  Obesity is rampant in the West, and yet many economies are characterized by widespread malnutrition. Shaver stated, “Nor do the industrialized countries recognize that, for their own future security, they must commit to helping find an enduring solution to the chronic food shortages present in too many disadvantaged areas. Some of us are beginning to think that terrorism is not entirely based on religious differences.”

Shaver also made reference to the inequalities in income and spending power between the “one per cent” and the rest of society. In the past half-century, taxation has favoured the rich in many countries, particularly the U.S.

Finding workable solutions
“If we are to build a more sustainable economic system, we must legislate a less reckless financial sector,” he said.  “Neo-liberal capitalism may create wealth, but no attempt is made to distribute this wealth with any degree of fairness, much less honesty. We have apparently accepted a “CEO mythology” replete with excessive salary, bonuses. Even in Great Britain, CEO’s from the top 100 companies enjoyed a 10 per cent salary increase in 2015 and are now paid 129 times more than their employees. Research has shown that since 2008, 91 per cent of all financial gains in the U.S. went to the “one per cent”, and they are basically not spending the money, while many of the other 99 per cent spend all their money just to get by.  This weakens demand and suppresses growth.”

While admitting that Canada, on its own, can do little to alter the world’s CO2 levels, we have nothing to lose by establishing a sustainable food system. Shaver proposed the establishment of a “senior cabinet post, second only to the prime minister, responsible for sustainable economic development and the sciences. Shaver envisions that this person would firmly direct our national scientific activity with respect to sustainability, eliminating duplication and managing the function of bureaucracy in areas where it lacks expertise. Furthermore, he would require the creation of a sustainability commission, chaired by the chief scientist; a non-partisan group, with long-term goals. It would not only create plans for Canadian sustainability, but also liaise with similar bodies in
other countries.

Shaver sees this commission initially providing the prime minister with three 10-year plans, reviewed and if necessary updated as circumstances change. The rewards envisaged would accrue to the scientists involved with the various projects and would be a serious incentive for long-term scientific endeavour.  In many cases, the challenges we face can be solved with existing knowledge. What is needed is the will to recognize and prioritize the need for action in the field of sustainability.

In conclusion, Shaver said that “the future human reality will be centred less on technology and industrial might than on food and water security for all mankind.  An Eastern philosopher observed that knowing the facts is easy; knowing how to act based on the facts is difficult!”
Published in Emerging Trends
Consumers want to know where their food comes from and the vast majority of Canadians believe that it is important that domestic chicken be labelled as such.  

Solid values
Based on that feedback, Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) has made it easier for consumers to choose Canadian chicken with its new “Raised by a Canadian Farmer” logo, which will be applied to chicken products at the grocery
store level.

By buying chicken with this brand, not only are consumers getting quality Canadian chicken, but they are also supporting farmers they trust – farmers who effectively manage bird health and raise their birds with welfare top-of-mind, who produce safe chicken for Canadians, who preserve the health of the land and their farms and who provide value to Canada, and affordable food to Canadians through supply management.

These are the key values of CFC’s new sustainability program. The first sustainability report will be published online in early 2017.  

These concepts are what make  the Canadian chicken industry sustainable – the hard work, and the good work, of all chicken farmers.  

The sustainability journey is a process of continual improvement. Chicken farmers have come a long way with the implementation of on-farm programs, responsible antibiotic use and growth in the industry which has contributed to the Canadian economy and helped support rural communities.

There will always be more work to do, however. Chicken farmers are striving to continually evolve and work to improve policies and practices that will deliver on the expectations of Canadian consumers.     Read on for a summary of projects and initiatives.


Protecting bird health and welfare
CFC is implementing a national, mandatory Animal Care Program that is enforced and includes third party audits.

The Canadian chicken industry is implementing a comprehensive “Antimicrobial Use Strategy” which involves surveillance, education, research and reduction.

Innovation is the foundation that provides farmers with the information and tools to be able to effectively  manage bird health and welfare.

CFC is a founding member of the Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC), the organization through which the majority of research funds are allocated.

The CPRC is dedicated to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities.

Producing safe chicken for Canadians
  • CFC is implementing a national, mandatory On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program which has received full recognition from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments.
  • The Canadian chicken industry has an effective and responsive traceability system in place, as well as well as communication and operational plans for dealing with potential disease outbreaks.
Preserving the health of our land
  • Canadian chicken farmers have adopted practices on the farm to reduce environmental impact. Examples include renewable geothermal heating, high efficiency lighting, and improved manure storage to prevent groundwater contamination.
  • The chicken industry’s environmental footprint has the lowest greenhouse gas intensity among all major livestock and poultry sectors in Canada [1].
  • Canadian chicken farms are healthy and vibrant, welcoming new entrants each year to a strong community of family farms.
Providing value through supply management
Supply management allows for the implementation of on-farm programs, for farmers to invest confidently in their operations and for the industry to contribute positively to the Canadian economy.  It also allows chicken farmers to  give back to local communities and for consumers to be assured of a steady supply of fresh, high-quality chicken at a reasonable price.

J. A. Dyer, X. P. C. Vergé, R. L. Desjardins and D. E. Worth, “The Protein-based GHG Emission Intensity for Livestock Products in Canada,” Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, vol. 34, pp. 618-629, 2010.

Note: Adapted from the presentation CFC prepared for the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Symposium.
Published in Companies
The arduous review process is over and the award has now been bestowed. Of the various operations nominated for the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award, Farmcrest Foods Ltd. (Farmcrest) is the winner.

The enterprise was started in 1999 and is owned by Richard Bell and his brother-in-law Alan Bird, whose families both originate from Ireland and came to Canada looking for new opportunities. In addition to Richard and Alan, members of three generations of the families currently help out on the farm, including Richard’s father Cecil (a retired farmer), brother Henry and sons Henry Jr. and Jack.  

The operation includes: a hatchery and poultry barns (in addition to growing their own birds Farmcrest also contracts 16 new entrant growers to supply chicken to their processing plant); feed mill; processing plant; rendering plant (renderings are not used on the farm but sold for animal feed); enclosed mechanical composting for bird mortality, and crop production (200 acres of owned land and 400 acres of leased land farmed with potatoes, sunflowers and soybeans). Farmcrest also has its own poultry retail store. In total, the operation employs 45 people.

The farm itself is situated on soils ranging from clay and loamy clay to sandy loam with some peat areas in a relatively flat river bottom area near Salmon Arm, B.C.

“It is also very close to Shuswap Lake,” Bell explains. “We therefore need to be very careful with the amount and type of nutrients applied to this well-drained area to prevent runoff.”

Farmcrest’s regular nutrient management practices include using a concrete pad (contained to prevent runoff) for manure storage. There is also virtually no runoff of nutrients from the fields (and little odour) as manure is worked in with a disc or ploughed under immediately after application.

“We only apply the manure to the fields needing it for the seed that is being planted,” Bell notes. “Our soil health has improved steadily in the last five years since these measures were put in place.” No commercial fertilizers are used.

Farmcrest has an environmental farm plan and has used expert advice from a certified crop advisor since 2011. In 2013, Farmcrest also began a working relationship with Poultry Partners, a team of technicians, production specialists, veterinarians and nutritionists based in Airdrie, Alta., which offers a variety of agricultural industry services. The firm supported Farmcrest’s nomination for the sustainability award through a letter of recommendation - as did the British Columbia Chicken Marketing Board.

“They’ve done an excellent job farming intensively in a very ecologically-sensitive area,” Shawn Fairbairn, Poultry Partners general manager says. “They have committed to improve soil fertility, optimize production and most importantly, reduce chemical and pesticide use and virtually eliminate synthetic fertilizer to ensure the surrounding ecosystem remains undisturbed. There is on-going monitoring and testing of the manure, soil and crops to ensure their goals are being reached. The investment in new equipment to allow for less soil disturbance and odour when poultry manure is applied is one example of their forward-thinking.”  

Fairbairn also notes that farm equipment is continuously upgraded at Farmcrest so that the most precise technology is used with the most fuel-efficient engines. “By growing about 85 per cent of all the feed ingredients their chickens consume, they have dramatically reduced the carbon footprint of their operation,” he adds.

Farmcrest also uses moisture and pH meters for soil testing to understand when conditions are optimal for manure application.

An overall goal to achieve air quality improvement (reductions in odour, ammonia and particulate matter inside and outside the barn) has been achieved by ensuring an optimal level of nitrogen is available to the birds. Ingredient and feed sampling are conducted on a regular basis to track this, and tests to track soil nitrogen levels are also completed annually. Because of all this monitoring and adjustment (not to mention an on-farm feed mill that makes immediate changes in the ration possible), Farmcrest has seen improvements in bird growth as well as air quality and soil improvement.

No irrigation is used at Farmcrest, and as much water as possible is conserved through the use of an ‘air chill’ system in the processing plant, nipple drinkers in the barns and a misting system for barn disinfection. Farmcrest has built 14 new poultry barns in the last five years, and Richard says their goal with each build is to be as energy efficient as possible. This includes the use of R60 insulation, LED lighting, high-efficiency electric motors and radiant tube heating.

Product differentiation
Farmcrest was the first in its region to grow grain corn and now non-GMO grain corn. This led to the operation breaking new ground on a national level by being the first poultry operation in Canada to market non-GMO chicken (verified through nongmoproject.org). Poultry Partners assisted with further development of products. “[Farmcrest] listened to their customers and have proactively responded to the demand that was there in their local market. This has been extremely good for their business and the long-term financial viability of their operation.”

Fairbairn describes the Bird and Bell families as having a “tangible passion” for poultry and farming. “We love working with clients that are ‘hands-on’ and engaged,” he notes. “And the folks at Farmcrest are extremely engaged. Their work ethic and commitment to the environment and their local community is easy to grasp when you spend time with them. They are big believers in continuous learning and improvement. There is on-going reinvestment in all aspects of their operation to allow for improved welfare, safety and production efficiency for the birds, workers and the food they produce.”  

Team effort
The fact that the Farmcrest owners directly work alongside their employees every day has created, in Fairbairn’s view, a culture of hard work and high standards. “It is also unique to see three generations of family all working together towards a common goal,” he notes. “The youngest generation is actively involved in working and planning and will be well prepared to continue the legacy of this agri-business. The owners are always looking for new technologies and ideas. They literally travel the world to attend trade shows, farm tours and crop production events to ensure they are on the leading edge of agriculture. As a consulting group, we are extremely fortunate to have a client like Farmcrest.”

Bell says he feels honoured that Farmcrest has won the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award. “It is very much a team effort,” he notes. “I wish to thank my staff and our team for their dedicated efforts each and every day.”

Visit farmcrestfoods.ca if you would like to read in more detail about the business.
Published in Profiles
Dec. 20, 2016 - The University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan campus has a new national research chair. In collaboration with Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC), UBC has named Nathan Pelletier as egg industry chair in sustainability/endowed chair in bio-economy sustainability management.

Pelletier is cross-appointed to both UBC's Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences and the campus' faculty of management, to support interdisciplinary research at the Okanagan campus.

"Food system sustainability is a subject of increasing importance in Canada and beyond and I look forward to collaborating with UBC colleagues and others in this research area," says Pelletier. "I would like to thank Egg Farmers of Canada for their participation and support of this crucial area of study."

As part of his role, Pelletier will be responsible for directing and managing research programs to support sustainability measurement and management for the Canadian egg industry and food sector more broadly. His work will include exploring sustainability measurement and management, life-cycle thinking and resource efficiency.

"We are proud to be working with Dr. Pelletier," says Tim Lambert, chief executive officer of Egg Farmers of Canada. "Egg farming is already one of the most environmentally sustainable forms of animal agriculture. Building on this reality, our strong commitment to sustainability and our investment in Dr. Pelletier's innovative research will ensure that the Canadian egg industry continues to improve its environmental footprint."

Pelletier holds a BSc from the University of Victoria, a Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University and an interdisciplinary Research PhD in Ecological Economics, also from Dalhousie. He also conducted post-doctoral research for Environment Canada and, most recently, for the European Commission Joint Research Centre's Institute for Environment and Sustainability.

EFC will be providing funding for the new chair in connection with research activities, including the areas of sustainability measurement and management, life-cycle thinking and resource efficiency.

EFC has released a video that provides additional information on Pelletier and his research, available online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig_PHQkYpfo.
Published in Profiles
According to The World Bank the roughly 4.5 billion low-income people in developing countries spend more than $5 trillion a year collectively. Of that, they spend $2.3 trillion a year on food and beverages alone. It stands to reason then that businesses that target those consumers and establish local sources of supply will be able to take advantage of this incredible growth.

Furthermore, by connecting segments of those populations with viable markets, businesses have the ability to bring people out of poverty. This is what is referred to as an “inclusive business.” Markus Dietrich, co-founder and director of ASEI Inc., spoke on inclusive business models at this year’s International Egg Conference in Warsaw, Poland.

What is an inclusive business?
According to the G20 Inclusive Business Framework, inclusive business approaches go beyond corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, and impact investment by connecting poor people to markets. “[Inclusive business approaches] encompass business approaches that directly improve the lives of the poor by making them part of the value chain of companies’ core business as suppliers, distributors, retailers, or customers,” said a report from the G20 meeting in Istanbul in 2015.

According to Dietrich inclusive businesses have the opportunity to capture corporate growth and market opportunities while enhancing brand value with key stakeholders. In building an inclusive model, businesses also reap added rewards: gaining social license to operate, future proofing the supply chain and attracting and retaining talent.

Dietrich knows all about designing an inclusive business model. He is, after all, an inclusive business specialist with extensive experience in research, consulting and project development. He is regularly recruited by leading corporations to develop inclusive business models aimed at corporate growth and social impact. Dietrich is also co-founder and CEO of Hilltribe Organics, a social enterprise producing free-range and organic eggs with hill tribe communities in Northern Thailand. Hilltribe Organics is the first certified organic chicken farm in Thailand; its products are available in all major supermarkets.

Existing inclusive businesses
There are many corporations who have already put their sustainability plans into action. Unilever, for instance, launched its Sustainable Living Plan in 2010. The plan is a blueprint for the company’s sustainable growth. Similarly, Mars established the Cocoa Sustainability Initiative and committed to being sustainable in a generation. To support a long-term goal of Creating Shared Value, Nestlé made 38 commitments that it aims to be by 2020 or earlier. Here in North America, McDonald’s Corporation has decided to stop using eggs from chickens raised in cages over the next decade.

But it’s not just food service and processers that are creating inclusive business models. Businesses involved in primary production are challenging older models with the goal of lifting communities out of poverty. The 3 million farmers who work for Amul Dairy Cooperative in India, for instance, all benefit directly from the company’s success. The cooperative is so inclusive that even a farmer with a single cow can join. Locally, a group manages milk collection and pays farmers on the spot.

Inclusive businesses in the egg industry value chain

There are examples of inclusive businesses around the world, including in the breeding, machinery and primary production sectors, said Dietrich, who highlighted several examples where business opportunities created better lives for those involved. In Ethiopia, for example, diets are deficient in protein. Indigenous chicken breeds have a survival rate of 50 percent. Birds produce fewer eggs, mature later and are prone to disease.

Mekelle Farms saw an opportunity to increase egg production by 500 per cent, thereby increasing smallholder farmer incomes. Higher egg production will both increase the supply of protein to rural and urban households, said Dietrich, as well as lower the cost of protein, making it more accessible.

Similarly, in India, poultry farmers have millions of low-productivity birds in back yards. Their flocks aren’t generating enough income, nor are they providing enough food. There, Keggfarms helped make low-income families more food secure by addressing the egg and meat issue, as well as providing opportunities for farmers, explained Dietrich. Keggfarms also create a micro entrepreneur network selling day-old chicks that have a longer life expectancy.

Keggfarms has received high praise for its business model. It is even a case study on Social Enterprise at Harvard Business School, said Vipin Malhotra, CEO at Keggfarms.

Realizing that per-person poultry meat consumption will rise faster than it will for pork and beef, especially in Africa, machinery company Surehatch saw an opportunity to build connections in South Africa. Surehatch, said Dietrich, focuses on Kenya’s smallholder market, emphasizing the idea of chicken production as a business opportunity. The company trains farmers – more than half of them are women – and helps them to create profitable businesses that provide a steady annual income.

Dietrich’s own inclusive business, Hilltribe Organics in Thailand, triples farm incomes, helping to bring families out of poverty. Regular and predictable income, he said, helps improve their quality of life.

Developing your own inclusive business
Thinking about developing your own inclusive business model? In a recent report, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) noted that there are some 475 million small farmers globally, creating a huge potential supply chain for future inclusive business owners. A good start, said Dietrich, is making the move from corporate social responsibility to inclusive business models. This can be done by partnering with social enterprises and seeking support and financing from an inclusive business ecosystem.

Can eggs make a difference? Dietrich thinks they can. At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit of September of 2015, world leaders agreed to adopt the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including eliminating poverty and hunger, and improving health, education and gender equality. Of the 17 goals, Dietrich said that egg production addresses at least eight: no poverty; no hunger; good health; gender equality; good jobs and economic growth; responsible consumption; life on land; and creating partnerships for the goals.

“We have proved the point that eggs have the potential to create substantial social impact,” concluded Dietrich. “Having a predictable and regular income has completely changed their lives.”
Published in Farm Business
Canada and the U.S. are set to severely restrict and even eliminate the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in poultry and livestock production by the end of 2017, says Elanco Animal Health regulatory affairs director Randy Bogg.

Both Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate (VDD) and the U.S. Center for Veterinary Medicine are proposing to disallow the use of antibiotics to improve performance and require veterinary oversight will be required for therapeutic use, he told the B.C. Poultry Symposium in Abbotsford, May 26th.

“All labels are to be changed by the end of 2016,” Bogg says, noting it will impact over 160 products with growth promotant claims.

The Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) is committed to working with the VDD to develop new labels which define the terms and duration of use. Even though drugs are nationally regulated, usage may still vary among provinces as veterinarians are provincially regulated.

The end of antibiotic use in hatcheries is taking its toll on hatchability and chick quality. To offset that, both hatcheries and hatching egg producers need to pay greater attention to detail, says Cobb-Vantress hatchery specialist Ben Green. It starts with the eggs.

“If (producers) send us junk, how can we make good chicks?” he asks.

Producers should stop sending or at least isolate dirty and floor eggs so hatcheries can handle them separately since “they’re not going to do as well.”

Green says using a low-volatility electrostatic sprayer to spray eggs with chlorine dioxide increased hatchability 4.39 per cent. Cobb is also trying to identify hairline cracks in eggs. While they get an 89.6 per cent hatch from good eggs, cracked eggs only have a 66.4 per cent hatch and chicks are generally weaker.

“Chicks from good eggs have a one per cent mortality rate in the first seven days while those from cracked eggs have a five per cent rate.”

He also stresses the need for eggs to be right side up when they go into the incubator, claiming 75 per cent of chicks die if they start upside down.

Once hatched, chicks have to be fed right. DSM Nutritional Products technical support manager April Levy says growers should no longer rely on the 1994 National Research Council recommendations as they are based on 1970s and early 80s genetics.

“Today’s broilers are twice as efficient and turkeys three times as efficient,” she points out.

DSM updated its guidelines this year and put out an app to help growers optimize the usage of vitamins D and E. Vitamin D helps prevent rickets and TD (tibial dyschondroplasia) and reduces egg shell problems while Vitamin E helps the immune response under heat stress and also improves infectious bronchitis titers.

She also advocates biotin and added zinc to reduce footpad lesions in turkeys but admits it won’t help if litter is too damp.

LITTER
Jones-Hamilton business development manager Blake Gibson calls litter a critical component, saying it should be below 4.3 pH.

“Most litter is 6.5 to 7.5 pH,” he states, saying the higher the pH the more quickly bacteria will replicate.

He notes all litter has benefits and drawbacks. Wood shavings increase pathogen loads while straw and grass are less absorptive. Sand is good but too much ends up in the crop.

While Gibson recommends a moisture content of 10-20 per cent, CEVA Sante Animale poultry range manager Kobus Van Heerden wants to see it at 25-35 per cent if growers are vaccinating birds against coccidiosis. To be effective, the vaccine needs to be applied at the hatchery, then sporulated on-farm and reingested 2-4 more times.

“Each time it cycles, the immunity gets better and better,” Van Heerden says, saying the damper litter (and a temperature of 26 to 36°C) is necessary to facilitate sporulation.

While many growers start their birds at one end of the barn, then open up the rest of the barn when the birds have grown, Van Heerden encourages them to start the birds in a narrow lane along the full length of the barn, then widen the lane as birds age. That way, vaccine is spread through the whole barn, resulting in more uniform recycling.

The experts not only disagree on the right moisture content for litter, but the right amount. Gibson wants litter to be at least 10-15 cm deep (higher in barns with concrete floors and on second floors and lower in barns with a soil base), saying birds use it to regulate their temperature. However, Martin Roshoj Jensen of Skov A/S suggests starting with only 1-5 cm of litter on a concrete floor, saying a shallow litter allows excess moisture to evaporate.

“We tried it by accident and it worked,” he says, adding a shallow litter also got rid of darkling beetles “because birds can dig them out and eat them.”

Jensen suggests peat moss as a litter, saying many Northern European poultry farms now use it. Before the litter is spread, the floor should be heated to 30-32°C. Birds should be started at a room temperature of 34°C until they reach 175 grams.

He believes temperature is absolutely critical, saying birds eat less when they are too hot. Despite that, he told growers not to skimp on heat, saying it is easier to cool birds when they are too hot than to warm them up when they are too cold.

RWA Production
Phibro Animal Health nutritionist Mike Blair suggests growers consider using Nicarb as a feed additive instead of vaccinating, calling it “most efficient” at controlling coccidiosis. Nicarb should be added to starter feed at 125 ppm and to grower feed at 100 ppm and used until birds are 28-29 days of age.

Blair claims some American ABF and organic farms use Nicarb year-round but one B.C. producer says he is not allowed to use it in his RWA (raised without antibiotics) chicken.

While some antibiotics may still be used therapeutically, many products have been completely withdrawn. As a result, says retired B.C. Ministry of Agriculture poultry veterinarian Dr. Bill Cox, there is no longer any drug to treat blackhead in turkeys.

To avoid blackhead, growers need to keep the birds as healthy as possible. Barns should be completely cleaned and disinfected between flocks to eliminate histamonids and sealed to prevent entry of earthworms, a primary vector for parasites. Just having a concrete floor is not a solution, the floor needs to be higher than the ground around it.

Cox also discourages running turkey on pasture particularly if chicken have previously used it.

“Birds on pasture are the greatest risk,” Cox says.

To achieve good C&D, growers should do more than just blow down or air out their barns, says Merial Canada technical services veterinarian Louis Colulombe. He notes a dirty barn has up to 3,000,000 CFU (colony-forming units) of bacteria/square inch. Even after airing out the barn, 2,000,000 CFU’s remain. He advocates washing the barn with detergent and following that with a disinfectant to reduce the bacteria load to less than 1,000 CFU’s/sq. in. He encourages the use of a foaming detergent, as it sticks to walls longer and clearly shows the extent of the coverage.

Concerns over the use of antimicrobials in food animals is driven by fears this will lead to resistance in humans but it is not just humans which could suffer the consequences of unbridled antibiotic use.

“Using antibiotics is a selection process for E.coli,” says Zoetis veterinary services manager Babak Sanei. While E.coli can’t be eliminated in poultry, only a few are pathogenic. The most common result is cellulitis, now the number one reason for condemns in Canada.

Another issue of concern is salmonella enteritidis (SE).

“SE doesn’t make birds sick but it will make people sick,” says B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) public health veterinarian Melissa McLaws, claiming B.C. has the highest incidence of SE in the country. The BCCDC is working with the B.C. Ministries of Agriculture and Health and the poultry industry to develop a strategy to remove poor quality eggs from the marketplace. It is also adding SE-training to its FoodSafe program for food preparers and handlers.
Published in Health
It’s one of the most, if not the most, efficient and high-tech poultry barn in Canada – a layer barn/egg cooling facility that offsets the consumption of electricity and natural gas heating through the use of solar electricity generation and many cutting-edge technologies.

The total estimated annual electricity and natural gas needs of the facility are between 80,000 to 120,000 kWh (with one GJ of natural gas consumption equivalent to 278 kWh). The existing solar panels generate about 29,000 kWh, so at this point, only about a third of the facility’s power needs are taken care of on-farm – but it’s a facility which holds many keys to how a layer facility might be designed and operated so that it produces as much energy as it consumes, known as “net zero.” Egg Farmers of Alberta describes the site as “establishing precedent for what additional solar (or other energy generation) would be required to get to net zero energy consumption,” and that it will “eventually provide all of the information we need to in order to communicate what a net zero layer barn looks like, and what it costs.”

The free-run aviary barn is owned by the Brant Hutterite Colony (population 105) in Brant, Alberta (near Lethbridge) and houses 13,000 laying hens. To help offset some of the construction costs, the colony received a $250,000 grant from the Alberta government. Its partners, Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF), also secured some funding from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (through Growing Forward 2) to help make the project a reality.

The idea for a net zero egg facility came about in 2014 after EFA had completed a “life cycle analysis”(an examination of resource use and other factors) of the province’s egg farms. It showed that on-farm energy use represents nearly 15 per cent of the climate change impact of egg production in Alberta. “EFA was and is in the process of building plans and strategies to improve the carbon footprint of egg production and this [project] was a natural fit,” notes EFA Industry Development Officer Jenna Griffin. “Similar projects were initiated with Pork and Milk, but each organization took it in a different direction and I believe we were the only ones that went down the path of building a commercial facility.”

To find an egg farmer partner, EFA sent information to all those in the province known to be building a new facility and narrowed it down to a few that met certain criteria. “For example, we wanted the facility to be near a major urban centre, and be of a size that was representative of an average Alberta egg farm,” says Griffin. “The intent was to give ourselves the best chance of successfully getting to net zero and to ensure that the data generated is applicable to most farms.”

In describing why Brant Colony went ahead, Brant egg manager Darrel Mandel highlights the collegiality within Alberta’s egg industry. “There is a passion for your fellow producer,” he says. “When one has achieved a new and efficient way to better his or her farm…it is shared…For us, it did not seem right to let this pass and not do it for the industry.” The agreement with EFA and AAF required that Brant Colony provide data about barn energy performance and also install a web cam inside the barn, and Mandel says that while “providing data did not seem to be such a big issue” at the time, “agreeing to install cameras, allowing tours, were some big things to consider, and there were multiple reasons why we felt that first off, why should the public see what we or our birds are doing? It seemed like a very strange and out-of-place puzzle piece…[but] then we asked ourselves, what is there to hide? Why is this making us afraid on sharing what we do best, that being caring for our animals?…Adding the cameras would not change our everyday lifestyle. We love our animals…They need to be treated with the best care possible. By doing that, it gives the consumer a healthier egg…and gives us farmers an accomplishment that we are proud of and willing to share, be it on live stream or face to face with the public.”                                                           

MAKING CHOICES
Using input from EFA and AAF, Brant Colony designed the building and purchased very high-efficiency systems and equipment. “The highest priority was for full laying-barn energy metering of electricity and natural gas,” notes AAF engineer Kelly Lund. “The next highest priority was for an investigation into using modern Heat Recovery Ventilator technology to save on heat energy.” Another main priority was choosing high efficiency equipment in the egg cooler. Electricity consumption is slashed low through the use of LED lights, which initially cost more but reduce light energy use by at least 80 per cent compared to incandescents, and have 30 times the lifespan.

The barn is heated through hydronics, a system wherein heat radiates from warm water circulated through a set of tubes, in this case hung from the ceiling. The water is heated using a natural gas boiler and circulated by electrically-powered pumps. Retaining as much heat as possible is very important to keep energy consumption down, but in a poultry barn, extra insulation won’t really help. That’s because barns lose about 80 per cent of their heat in the winter through ventilation – and that’s why a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) was included in the barn design.

HRV’s maintain air quality while preventing large amounts of heat from being exhausted outside through transferring heat from outbound warm barn air to the incoming cold fresh air. The airstreams pass through an elongated grid system and never mix. The amount of heat that can be retained depends on factors such as air velocity and the temperature difference between the airstreams. Moisture must be removed when the exhaust air temperature is reduced to the dew point. “In freezing weather, there is potential for frost build-up with this condensation,” notes Lund. “Most HRVs (including this one) have a defrost cycle they are able to run if required.”

The HRV system will become operational this fall. Lund says they are anticipating some potential problems in colder weather, “not so much with the heat exchanger itself, but with the method of interior air distribution, which is a free air jet to a central redistribution fan system. If the incoming airspeed is not fast enough (which could potentially happen in particularly cold weather when the incoming airflow rate is reduced to prevent freeze-up), the incoming air may not reach the target location within the barn to be properly circulated.” Brant Colony has looked closely at the situation with EFC and AAF, and also hired an independent engineer. Mandel says everyone has concluded they need to run a distribution duct in order to get a good air flow to the centre of the barn. “We have decided it is better if we wait until the flock gets depopulated in early 2017,” he says. “We will still try to do some initial HRV testing once the heating season starts to see what the air distribution pattern looks like, but are prepared to shut it down if we notice problems.”

When might this particular egg production and cooling facility reach ‘net zero’ energy consumption? Lund says once they have one to two years of data monitoring, they will have “a much better sense of the energy use” and of “the amount of solar panels it would take to make it fully net zero.” She adds that Brant Colony’s decision to go fully net zero will likely be based at some future point in time on “whether the marketplace was ready to reward that level of initiative.”

Mandel notes that overall, being involved in the initiative gave him and his Colony colleagues the impression that the barn really could not be efficient enough, which spurred them to continuously look for efficiencies in all aspects of construction and operation. Besides the HRV system which hasn’t begun operating yet, Mandel says everything else is functioning well. “We can see the energy loads of the equipment in the control system and in the boiler room, and the cooler unit and solar are showing positive signs that the research was a worthwhile cause.”
Published in Profiles
Fortune magazine in September took a deep dive into the cage-free egg movement, chronicling how McDonald’s made its decision to go cage-free and the company’s prospects for being able to follow through on its pledge.

McDonald’s announcement a year ago spurred a tidal wave through the food industry. Around 200 companies, including every major fast food chain and many major brands, have said they will go cage-free. Most of them target 2025 for completing the transition.

The Fortune article cites results from Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) research that examined three different hen housing systems – conventional cage, enriched colony and cage-free – and concluded there are positive and negative trade-offs with each.

Food beat writer Beth Kowitt cites that the CSES study considered the housing systems as a whole – worker health, animal health, food affordability, food safety and environmental impact, while activist groups focus solely on animal welfare. An excerpt: In the end, science wasn’t the deciding factor. The study intentionally excluded one component – consumer sentiment – and that turned out to be the most important of all. The phrase “enriched cage” means nothing to the average person. So if McDonald’s had shifted to that option, it wouldn’t get any credit from consumers. “Science was telling us enriched, but when talking with the consumer, they had no clue what enriched was,” says Hugues Labrecque, who runs the egg business that serves McDonald’s at Cargill. Once that became clear, cage-free became the inevitable consensus.

In a Forbes op-ed, contributor Steve Banker, who covers logistics and supply chain management, cites the Fortune article and analyzes what will have to happen in the marketplace in order for McDonald’s to meet its cage-free commitment by 2025. He concludes, “McDonald’s shows us that companies have a chance to do ‘good,’ where ‘good’ is defined in a way that resonates with their customer base….”

In a Forbes article back in May, “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert noted there currently is no United States Department of Agriculture legal definition for “cage-free” and that, “…transparency of what the term actually means will anger many as they discover their imagery of a happy-go-lucky hen running through the field is far from the truth.”

People with strong feelings about hen housing tend to bypass scientific studies such as that conducted by CSES. Food companies want to give customers what they want regardless of the science.

There are a number of barriers to consumers integrating scientific information into their decision-making process. The influence of group values, confirmation bias, scientific illiteracy, the tribal nature of online communication and other factors all pose challenges to successfully introducing technical information into the social conversation about food and agriculture.

Many of the barriers can be overcome by following the formula developed through CFI’s research. Establishing shared values opens the door for technical information to be introduced into the conversation. It begins by first identifying and then communicating values from a credible messenger.  Only then can incorporating technical information be viewed as trustworthy, building on a message platform that encourages informed decision-making.

Building trust is a process. Authentic transparency and continued engagement will encourage objective evaluation of scientific information that supports informed decision-making. Encouraging informed decision-making requires meeting people in the communities where the discussions are taking place, acknowledging their scepticism and committing to long-term engagement.

The Center for Food Integrity
CFI is a not-for-profit organization whose members and project partners represent the diversity of today’s food system, from farmers and food companies to universities, non-governmental organizations to retailers and food processors.

Visit foodintegrity.org for more information.
Published in Eggs - Layers
Numbers found on cans of tuna provide the combination to unlock a wealth of information. It’s yet another example of the food system recognizing consumer demand for information and embracing transparency.

Chicken of the Sea’s traceability website allows consumers to enter a 10-to-15 digit number found on the bottom of certain tuna products. In return, the consumer can read a description of the species; where the seafood was caught, including a map and a species-specific stock status report from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation; the fishing method used; the fishing vessel; where the seafood was processed; where the seafood was canned; and general information on the company’s sustainability initiatives. The company says it will eventually expand the program to its entire shelf-stable line.

“It is important for our customers to have an opportunity to know the story behind their fish,” said Chicken of the Sea’s director of sustainability. “Traceability is an essential step.”

Former New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman recently suggested that the long and contentious GMO labeling law debate could force a transparency revolution. There’s no doubt that farmers and food makers need to be aggressive in opening their doors and letting consumers see how food is produced, but in reality, a transparency revolution is already underway.

Chicken of the Sea’s new program is a good example, but only one of many.

Hershey’s commitment to increased transparency and move to simpler ingredients goes back to 2015. The company’s website now provides an A-to-Z glossary of all its ingredients with easy-to-understand descriptions.

Leading food, beverage and consumer products companies last December unveiled SmartLabel to empower consumers to access a myriad of information with a simple bar code scan or click of a website.  The technology puts nutritional information, ingredients, allergens, third-party verifications, social compliance programs, usage instructions, advisories and safe handling instructions at consumers’ fingertips in a standardized format.

At California’s JS West and Companies, a leading egg producer, cameras in the barns allow online visitors to see what the hens are doing 24 hours a day. Visitors to the site are welcome to leave comments about what they see.

New Jersey-based Catelli Brothers has installed a 12-camera system at its veal plant that monitors the facility in real time. A third-party generates a daily report on animal treatment.

At Indiana’s Fair Oaks Farms, the doors are open for thousands of visitors every year to look through glass walls to see how real dairies produce milk and how pigs are born and cared for. The founders of the company say they have nothing to hide and want the public to see how their animals are treated.

CFI research proves that increased transparency is a powerful tool to earn consumer trust. People today expect transparency and want to see how food is produced. Consumers want the ability to engage and get questions answered promptly and in easy-to-understand language. They want to see how food is produced, who’s producing it, what’s in it and how it impacts their health.

A growing number of farms and food companies are engaged in the transparency revolution and pulling back the curtain, which should be applauded. Critics who intentionally disregard the progress toward greater transparency only serve to discourage it by refusing to give credit where credit is due. So, food system critics are encouraged to be transparent about genuine progress among food producers just as producers who have yet to embrace transparency need to be encouraged to build on the positive momentum. There is no denying the ability of transparency to increase
consumer trust. n

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 dialog with the food system to create better alignment with consumer expectations. For more information, visit: www.foodintegrity.org
Published in Consumer Issues
Sept. 29, 2016 - Farmers in Alberta are invited to turn in their obsolete or unwanted agricultural pesticides and livestock/equine medications on the dates and at the locations specified below for safe disposal.

Collection sites will be open on the days specified from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 3                        

Central Alberta Co-op in Innisfail, 403-505-1467
Edberg Crop Management in Edberg, 780-877-0003
Crop Production Services in Westlock, 780-349-4525
Crop Production Services in Smoky Lake, 780-656-4343

Tuesday, Oct. 4                        

Richardson Pioneer in Provost, 780-753-2511
Alliance Seed Cleaning Association in Alliance, 780-879-3927
Parkland Fertilizers in Lacombe, 780-782-2232
Neerlandia Co-op in Barrhead, 780-674-2820

Wednesday Oct. 5

Andrukow Group Solutions in Saint Paul, 780-645-5915
Richardson Pioneer in Lavoy, 780-658-2408
McEwen's Fuels & Fertilizers in Athabasca, 780-675-9500
Crop Production Services in Camrose, 780-672-3025

Thursday, Oct. 6                      

Crop Production Services in Vermilion, 780-853-4711
North Corridor Co-op in Thorhild, 780-398-3975
Leduc Co-op in Leduc, 780-986-3000
Andrukow Group Solutions in Wainwright, 780-842-3306

Friday, Oct. 7                            

Sturgeon Valley Fertilizers in Legal, 780-961-3088
Andrukow Group Solutions in Viking, 780-336-3180
UFA in Drayton Valley, 780-621-0313
Crop Production Services in Lloydminster, 780-871-4601
 

CleanFARMS, a national, industry-led agricultural waste stewardship organization, has partnered with CropLife Canada and the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) to deliver this program to Alberta farmers. The plant science and animal health industries are committed to safely and responsibly collecting and disposing of obsolete pesticides and livestock/equine medications at no cost to farmers.

For more information, visit www.cleanfarms.ca or call 1-877-622-4460.
Published in Farm Business
Sept. 27, 2016 - Cobb-Vantress, Inc. recently welcomed hatchery managers and owner/operators from across Canada for its 2016 Hatchery Roundtable in Toronto, where incubation companies Jamesway and Chickmaster also took part providing insights on their specific equipment and programs.

In addition to Cobb presentations, topics of discussion included vaccination, sanitation, maintenance as well as many other important hatchery procedures and practices.

“These hatchery managers and owner/operators play a key role in the Canadian poultry industry and this type of roundtable meeting provides an ideal opportunity for everyone to visit with Cobb experts in person, share ideas and best practices, and network with other industry professionals that deal with similar issues in their operations,” says Trevor Gies, marketing manager for Cobb North America.

“Instead of focusing on general topics, we covered areas that everyone was interested in and wanted to learn more about,” said Ben Green, hatchery specialist in the Cobb World Technical Support Team. “Each attendee suggested topics of interest before the meeting through our event website and that allowed us to create a meeting agenda addressing everyone’s needs. We had great participation from the group and were able to help answer many of their questions.
Published in Companies
September 22, 2016 - World leaders are pushing to end the overuse of antibiotics and to encourage the development of new medicines, driven by concern that drug-resistant germs could lead to millions of deaths and undermine the global economy. 

For only the fourth time in its 70 year history, the United Nations held a special meeting Wednesday devoted to a health issue: This time, on the rise of untreatable infections that is being propelled by the way drugs are overused and misused in both people and animals. 

Health experts have long worried about the issue, but it is getting more alarming because germs are getting ever more difficult to treat, few new antibiotics are being developed, and the problem appears to be global already. 

“We believe it's probably everywhere,'' said Dr. Keiji Fukuda of the World Health Organization, of the resistance to drugs. 

Here's more on the issue, and why world leaders believe it's so important. 

WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? 

Germs have higher chances of developing resistance to a drug if the drug is not used properly. If a drug is not used long enough or taken for the wrong reason, or if low levels of the drug are common in the environment, the germs can survive and adapt. 

Doctors are already facing situations in which they are helpless against infections that used to be easily treated with antibiotics, Fukuda said. All types of microbes, including bacteria, viruses and fungi have been shrugging off attacks from the medicines designed to stop them. Experts estimate that 700,000 people die around the world each year from drug-resistant germs, and they expect the number to 
grow sharply. 

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the problem may also affect doctors' willingness to do chemotherapy, organ transplants, or other treatments that might put a patient at risk of uncontrollable 
infections. ``It can undermine modern medicine,'' he said. 

WHY DO WE OVERUSE THESE DRUGS? 

Often because of good intentions and bad decisions. For example, antibiotics don't work against viral illnesses like colds and flu. But doctors often prescribe them anyway to patients looking for some kind of treatment for their respiratory infections, experts say. Companies that raise livestock routinely prescribe antibiotics to try to stave off costly infections in herds and flocks. 

WHY ARE THERE SO FEW NEW ANTIBIOTICS? 

A major reason is that it is very hard for drugmakers to earn any money selling new antibiotics, so they don't want to spend the money needed to develop them. Patients don't need to be on antibiotics for very long, which means they won't be buying large amounts of the drug. And doctors are likely to prescribe any new antibiotics only in cases where older, cheaper ones don't work first. 

WHY NOW? 

One factor is that world leaders are starting to worry about the economic threats from the problem. A 2014 report commissioned by the United Kingdom projected that by 2050 it will kill more people each year than cancer and cost the world as much as $100 trillion in lost economic output. 

The World Bank this week released a report saying drug-resistant infections have the potential to cause at least as much economic damage as the 2008 financial crisis. 

WHAT CAN THE U.N. DO? 

For now, just draw more attention to the problem. That's what happened on the three other occasions the U.N. held a special session on a health issue - on the AIDS virus in 2001, on non-communicable diseases in 2011, and on Ebola in 2014. 

The U.N. will adopt a declaration that endorses an action plan approved last year by an international meeting of health ministers. The declaration recognizes the size of the problem and encourages countries to come up with plans - and money - to cut back on antibiotic use, make better use of vaccines to prevent infections in 
the first place, and fund development of new drugs. 

"We need new antibiotics, but in all likelihood we're not going to invent our way out of this,'' Frieden said. 

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016
Published in Business & Policy
September 16, 2016 - Fortune Magazine interviews McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook on the company's reasoning behind the decision to utilize only cage-free eggs in North America in the next 10 years. READ MORE 
Published in Company News
Did you know that only 30 per cent of Canadians believe that the Canadian food system is heading in the right direction? And that 93 per cent of Canadians know little or nothing about Canadian farming practices? These findings, from recent research done by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, are alarming and should be of concern to everyone involved in the food system in Canada – from farmers, to processors, to retailers.

What can we do about it and how can we get our message out?  The good news is that while many Canadians know little about farming, over 60 per cent indicated that they would like to know more. As farmers and the food industry, we have a huge opportunity to engage with Canadians and build trust in our food system.

The task of getting our message out is extremely difficult. No one industry or organization can do the work that needs to be done; it has to be a collaborative effort. There are many excellent Canadian initiatives underway — each with a slightly different focus and mandate but each providing important tools to promote Canadian food, farmers, and agriculture.   

Farm & Food Care, Agriculture More than Ever, and Agriculture in the Classroom, along with countless commodity specific programs all at various stages of their growth, are doing tremendous work in being agricultural advocates.

Two months ago I was honoured to become chair of Farm & Food Care Canada.  For those who haven’t heard of this organization, it’s a framework of farmers, food companies, input suppliers, and associations created in 2011 with a mandate to provide credible information about food and farming in this country.

Farm & Food Care Canada is also home to the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI). The CCFI will be another source of credible information on food and farming related issues — information and research that has been compiled by trusted professionals within the Canadian and U.S. food industries.

One of the key elements related to the structure of Farm & Food Care Canada is the collaborative approach that it brings to the table. The ability to collaborate and work together with the groups mentioned above — and others — is unique and gives us a great opportunity to connect with consumers.

As we move forward, it is critical that all of us involved in the Canadian food industry (yes, that includes farmers) must put our personal agendas and biases aside and work together to get the good news story out about Canada’s food system.  If we don’t tell our story, who is going to talk to the 60 per cent of Canadians that want to know more about farming?

Over the last few years, we have seen some common farm practices — practices that we as farmers think are normal — come into the spotlight.  As a result, some poultry and hog farmers are facing the fact that they’ll have to adopt new, costly housing methods for their livestock and some crop farmers will have to adopt alternative methods to protect the seeds they plant.

I can’t help but think that if there was a framework such as Farm & Food Care Canada 25 years ago, and if the average Canadian consumer had better access to accurate information, then maybe some of the challenges we face today could have been overcome.

The work ahead is huge and we will not have success overnight.  However, the ground work that we lay together as a united agriculture and food industry today will help to ensure that the Canadian food system is trusted, healthy, sustainable, and robust for years to come.

Ian McKillop is the Chair of Food & Farm Care Canada, a coalition of farmers, associations and businesses proactively working together with a commitment to provide credible information and strengthen sustainable food and farming for the future.

McKillop is a fifth-generation egg, beef and grain farmer in Elgin County, Ontario and has a proven track record for leadership. He has been a board member of Farm & Food Care Ontario since its inception in 2010, while balancing his time on his busy farm with his young family. McKillop served as a board member for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association for five years, and chaired the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Beef Cattle Codes of Practice committee. He also served as president of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association between 2005 and 2008.
Published in Health
The University of Guelph has received $76.6 million from the federal government to start a “digital revolution” in food and agriculture.

The government is investing in U of G’s Food From Thought research project, which will use high-tech information systems to help produce enough food for a growing human population while sustaining the Earth’s ecosystems.

The funding, announced by Lloyd Longfield, MP for Guelph, on behalf of Kirsty Duncan, minister of science, will come from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), which supports world-leading research at universities and colleges.

It’s the largest single federal research investment in U of G history.

“This will position Canada as a leader in sustainable food production,” said U of G president Franco Vaccarino, adding the project will help farmers produce more food on less land using fewer inputs.

“Our faculty, staff and students will have opportunities to participate in innovative discovery and to play a role in tackling one of the world’s greatest challenges: how to sustainably feed our growing population.”

Longfield added: “The University of Guelph has a long history of collaborating across Canada and globally to contribute to understanding complex challenges. The global food supply will require the University’s unique leadership skills that bring together agricultural expertise, big data, environmental science, business and civil society. Today’s funding announcement will give Canada a huge step forward to become a global leader in food.”

Food From Thought will create novel tools for producing more and safer food while also protecting the environment.

“It is not just how much food we produce but also the way we produce it that will be key in the next century,” said Prof. Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research), who is the institutional lead for Food From Thought and a plant genomicist in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

New technology and agricultural practices must enhance biodiversity, produce safe, nutritious food, and improve animal welfare and human health, he said.

U of G is well-placed to lead this project, Campbell said. “We are Canada’s food university, with a 150-year legacy in agri-food and a reputation for innovation and commitment. We also have the capacity, with world-class researchers and facilities, and strong partnerships with government and industry.”

Geography professor Evan Fraser, scientific director of Food From Thought and director of U of G’s Food Institute, said launching a digital revolution will require improved understanding of the complex interplay between farming practices, the genetic potential of our crops and livestock, and the environment.

“This is essential if we are to realize the potential offered by our emerging ability to collect vast amounts of data and to develop information management systems,” he said.

Food From Thought will bring together experts to generate and commercialize knowledge, and to inform agri-food policy-makers and practices from farm management to global conservation planning.

The initiative will offer new teaching and research opportunities, and will focus on training the next generation of agri-food leaders through fellowships and graduate student positions.

More than $1 million will be available for annual research awards and competitions intended to develop innovations for sustainable food systems.

Within Food From Thought, researchers will work on key scientific missions including:

Expanding use of DNA barcoding technology developed at U of G to identify food fraud, food-borne ailments and invasive pests, and to improve environmental impact assessments;

Using “big data” on farms to reduce pesticide use, monitor watershed health and identify crops suited to the effects of climate change; and

Using information management systems to help track emerging infectious disease threats to livestock and control pathogens in the food supply.

Food From Thought includes partnerships with academic institutions around the globe, numerous government agencies, and industry and innovation centres.

One key partner is IBM Canada, which will be involved in everything from research collaborations to cognitive and data analytics tools and training to secure cloud-based storage.

“IBM shares the scientific vision of Food From Thought: ensuring that we sustainably, resiliently and safely increase production while enhancing ecosystem services and livestock health and welfare using data-driven approaches,” said Sanjeev Gill, research executive at IBM Canada.

Food From Thought will be one of U of G’s largest and most inclusive research projects, spanning all seven colleges. It will be led by 10 principal investigators from across campus.

This funding announcement was part of a $900-million competition lasting several months and involving a review panel of Canadian and international scientific experts. This is the second CFREF competition since 2014.

 
Published in Consumer

August 11, 2016 - The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, in partnership with The Center for Food Integrity in the US (CFI), convened an Animal Care Review Panel to analyze an undercover animal rights group video about an egg farm that was released on July 21, 2016.  The panel was comprised of an ethicist, an animal care specialist and a veterinarian. A report of their findings was released by the Canadian CFI on July 22, and distributed directly to select media, egg industry groups and companies, food retail and food service associations. Review the report from the panel here.

Hidden camera investigations have heightened public attention on animal care issues. In an effort to foster a more balanced conversation and to provide credible feedback to promote continuous improvement in farm animal care, CFI created the Animal Care Review Panel process. 

The Panel operates independently, and Its reports are not submitted to the industry for review or approval. CCFI's role is to facilitate the review process and release the panel's findings. 

For more information about the Animal Care Review Panel, contact Canadian CFI: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Published in Eggs - Layers

 

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.”

 

Published in New Technology
Page 1 of 8

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