Alberta Pork Reacts to New Pig Code of Practice

CANADA - After years of planning and research, the new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs was made public last week (6 March). While the work of revising the code may have ended, the greater challenge of implementing it has just begun.
calendar icon 10 March 2014
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The Codes of Practice are nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of different species of farm animals. They are revised every 10 years to reflect changing conditions and public sentiment. First published in 1984, the Code dealing with the hog industry was due for an update this year. The process of writing the new code was a collective effort of producers, industry representatives, researchers and humane societies.

According to the organization that represents Alberta pork producers, this same collaborative approach is critical to taking the code requirements from the boardroom to the barn.

"We’ve all had our input into this document including the Canadian public," said Alberta Pork Executive Director Darcy Fitzgerald. "Now it is time to allow our producers -who are very progressive - to work through those necessary changes in the time allotted."

"This code isn’t something that the government imposed on us. It reflects our industry’s commitment to the animals we care for and the best practices needed to do that."

The key, said Mr Fitzgerald, is to manage that change in a way that’s fair to everyone involved while honoring the fact that the code was developed through an agreed upon consensus process.

Since the entire value chain was involved in driving the new code, Mr Fitzgerald hopes that everyone will share the cost of implementing it.

"Progress is important, but can also be pricey. It will require that all sectors of the industry participate, from processors to retailers to food service, as well as consumers and humane societies, to support the efforts of producers. We all need to do our part."

While there are a number of different perspectives on the code, Mr Fitzgerald said there is one thing that everyone can agree upon.

"We need to allow some flexibility in applying the code requirements to reflect the unique circumstances of each farm and the skill sets of producers. They know their pigs better than anyone and understand their needs. At the end of the day, it’s about doing what’s best for the animals."

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