GUELPH — The province’s new animal welfare enforcement regime was scrutinized — and found lacking — at the Beef Farmers of Ontario annual general meeting.
Beef farmer delegates passed three resolutions concerning the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) system. The resolutions were in reaction to PAWS inspectors’ first-ever intervention at an Ontario beef farm, last December, which allegedly sent one animal welfare officer to hospital and one animal dead after an attempt to round up cattle with an ATV. Just more than 100 animals were taken away from the property north of Peterborough, however, and the owner faces a bill of more than $150,000 for care of the animals. The farmer is contesting the matter in court.
The first resolution calls on the province to ensure PAWS staff are properly trained and certified in the general knowledge and safe handling and transportation of livestock, and that costs charged for moving and impounding cattle “are within Ontario standards.”
The second compels a review of communications between BFO’s own Animal Advisory Council and county board members about potential issues before PAWS becomes involved.
The third compels BFO to work with other livestock commodity groups on a review of the PAWS Act “where livestock is involved during enforcement.
Another 18 resolutions received support:
● That BFO create a bursary to help cover the cost of attending a meat-training institution.
● That BFO lobby the province to have butchery included in the list of skilled trades as defined by Skilled Trades Ontario.
● That BFO work with other groups to lobby the province for funding to assist small- and medium-scale abattoir facilities actively looking to increase staffing levels through apprenticeship programs, and that BFO work with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to promote such programs and career opportunities in the abattoir industry.
● In light of $1 billion in expansion money the US government is offering to small and medium packing facilities, that BFO lobby governments for a similar program here to foster more competition.
● That BFO investigate or identify additional options for processing compromised cattle.
● That ear-notching be dropped by the Ontario
Feeder Finance Co-op for humanitarian and animal welfare reasons.
● That BFO lobby the Ontario government and other groups to control wild parsnip and other noxious weeds on public lands. And that weed inspectors be encouraged to control these weeds in those areas as well as private properties.
● That BFO work with government agencies to develop a consistent enforcement process for inspections of cattle at auction facilities.
● That BFO designate an advocate to help beef producers navigate the government inspection process and how to best deal with provincial and federal inspectors and regulations.
● That BFO work with other Ontario livestock organizations and OMAFRA to amend the Nutrient Management Act to simplify the approval process and lower the cost for smaller livestock operations.
● That BFO consider aggressively pursuing a viable logistical and financial solution to deadstock service disruption.
● That BFO work with industry and academia to develop profitable products that could be sold (e.g., fertilizers) to strengthen the deadstock/rendering sector.
● In an era of various product claims made on beef packaging (e.g. grass-fed, organic, etc.) that BFO lobby the government to audit the labelling and marketing claims made on beef sold in Ontario.
● That BFO look into creating a pamphlet, poster or digital image educating the public on what Ontario cattle eat, to be distributed by butcher shops, freezer beef retailers, farm-gate stores and chefs.
● That BFO work alongside other commodity groups to pressure the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for clear legislation separating meat and beef terminology from plant-based protein, release up-to-date data on the low environmental impact of raising cattle, and work to mandate that animal carcass and meat-grading scales be used for meat only, not plant-based protein.
● That BFO work with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and accredited Vet colleges on an apprenticeship program for students interested in becoming large animal vets.
● The BFO work with the CFIA and others to set up a workable system for obtaining signatures and leaving document copies at abattoirs without having to bother employees busy on the kill floor, when delivering cattle for slaughter.
● That BFO ask for the inclusion of email addresses in the information collected by sales barns, abattoirs and cattle dealers, when BFO next opens the Beef Cattle Marketing Act.